Saturday 21 April 2018

Day 49 - the art of keeping quiet plus TWO tests at free bars and my appy-appy-joy-joy

I have been busy-busy with work and family and tbh a few times I was wobbly about wine and deliberately didn't blog because I wanted to see if I could manage it just inside my head.

Jog on, cravings, I said.

Take a hike.

I don' need you no more.

And tickle me sideways if those dumb thoughts didn't just pack up and GO.

Free bar test #1

Last two nights I've stayed in a hotel with a mini bar in the room and a free bar in the reception lounge.  I've work-traveled for many years and this would have been my idea of lush heaven.  Get merry on the free bar then head up to my room for night caps (probably after a boozy dinner out, too).

After my daughter went home last night I opened and closed the fridge door about five times.  Thought about the ginger beer, decided against it, as the soft drink would have led to salt-and-vinegar kettle chips, and the chips might have led to the lovely crisp looking beer in the fridge door.

So I WALKED out of the room, headed up to a little Vietnamese takeaway near the hotel. Ordered a sparkling water with my papaya salad, and headed back refreshed, clear of temptation, and pretty damn pleased with myself.

Free bar test #2

Qantas Club - my spiritual home for work travel.  Here I am, at one of my favourite spots with a powerpoint, view of the departure board, and close proximity to the open bar and food.

I'm here early for my flight and would normally be mainlining the wine by now.

So how has it gone? 

1: lime and soda
2: lemon, lime and bitters
3: chai latte
(and a ham, cheese and pineapple toasted wholemeal pita bread, yum)

Worst moment? When the clock struck midday and the bar staff popped the first champagne corks on the self-serve bar.  That sound. Oh boy. I just love that sound.

But I am ok.  I am. 


I've tried a few apps but the one I keep checking is this super basic one called I'm Done Drinking.  What I love most is the six decimal places on each measure because they constantly tick over, reminding you that the difference you're making isn't by the day or the week or month, but in every second you don't drink.



Saturday 31 March 2018

Day Twenty Nine and how I take a big chance, because I was forgetting I'm sober now

In the interests of remaining positive, FOUR WHOLE WEEKS DONE! Only the rest of my life to go...

A few times in the past couple of days I've just totally forgotten I'm sober and I can't decide if that's a good thing, or a bad one?

Forgetful moments

Forgetful moment one: walking into the supermarket and past the bottle shop (just one of my several regulars) to the left and mentally noting I should leave room in the trolley on my way out so I could stock up. Immediately followed by inwardly rueful smile and headshake - silly woman, no you don't.

Forgetful moment two: driving past a bar I'd always meant to try out with the Prof and thinking 'Must do that in a couple of weeks when all the tourists go home'. Then remembering - hey, I don't drink now, what's the attraction? Then thinking - well, might still be fun. Maybe.

Forgetful moment three: seeing a roadside stall selling bags of limes and thinking 'Corona' instead of 'Thai salad'.

Forgetful moment four: heading home from dropping 60% of my immediate family at the airport to visit 20% of our family (leaving only me, and the dogs, cat, chooks, and blissful peace) when the idea of going by a drive through bottle shop to stock up on wine entered my head. Only then remembering we had wine at home anyway. Only then remembering that I don't want to drink it!

Because I don't

I really don't. I don't want wine and I don't want to add gin to my tonic water - I've been looking at pickling recipes that will use up my gin since the Prof won't drink it.

But I guess there's a price for everything you do and currently the price includes reminding myself this is a good thing.

I don't want to drink alcohol. I don't need to drink alcohol. I've had my share. I forget how to stop once I've started. Moderation doesn't work for me. 

I've found the answer for me: stopping is easier than slowing down.

Everything is easier this way

Like everything. Really.

So, with these forgetting/remembering things swirling around in my mind I felt like I needed to do something that set a longer view on this sobriety gig for me. Something that would start to put a shape around 'forever', a calendar entry at a time.

The big chance

And yesterday I took a big chance, for me.  I booked into a wellness retreat (in Bali!) for October.  

I thought about doing this last year but a) money was tighter then, and b) I'm not spending money on booze now, and c) i wasn't confident enough then to go spend a week with 13 unknown women and would have needed to drink to much if I did go, and d) I didn't care much about 'wellness' then and I do now.

Deposit paid. Excitement building. Commitment to yoga and lime sodas under Indonesian sunset, begins!


Tuesday 27 March 2018

Day Twenty Five - sliding down the rabbit hole

Far out.

This self-reflective compulsion is overwhelming.

I can't stop reading, reading, reading books and blogs, articles and guides. Not just about sobriety but about all kinds of ways that we fall into uncontrolled, destructive behaviour - food, drink, sloth, anger, over-work, misery.

I feel like I need to step away from it for a bit, because it's stopping me from my day to day work (and being self-employed, that is more than a little problematic) but at the same time I feel like I need answers and the opportunity to hunt Why is too good to miss.

I am so motivated to understand how I got to this place, where I could say 'Enough'.

So I don't think I will climb out of the rabbit hole just yet.

But I really have to do some work tomorrow!


Friday 23 March 2018

Day Twenty-One - three weeks! Sober bitchiness, and a new PUPPY pic

On being THAT person

If there's one good thing about the general aura of shittiness I'm exuding at the moment, it's that my family can't blame all my past grumping on grog.  I'm short-tempered and a bit fed up with not having wine in the past couple of days. 

We've had some lovely dinners at home and yes wine would have been a nice and natural addition, but I was also able to throw a big fat reality check at myself: I'm not a 'glass of wine with dinner' person, and if I was I wouldn't be intentionally sober now, or writing about it to stay strong!

I'm a glass of wine before dinner person ... AND topped up twice while preparing dinner, grudgingly shared with partner over dinner, topped up again (possibly from a new bottle) after dinner, and maybe another time or two - or three, if there was something good on tv, or four, if it was a Friday night - just to make sure I could sleep. 

And sometimes that would definitely make me a cranky person, a mean spirited person, a laugh too loud person, an impatient person, an intolerant person, a lazy person, a slow person, and an isolated and unhappy person too.


So it would be very reasonable for the family to feel that alcohol was the reason every time I had the cranks up after dinner, and judging by comments made in the past year or two they certainly noticed the difference in me mentally and physically when I was inhaling runny grapes.

It hurts to write some of these comments down but I am going to, because I deliberately didn't want to acknowledge them at the time and they remain horrifying to me now. I need to replay these moments in my head, with my totally three-week sober brain, and own it.

Sample comments

  • I hate it when you get like this (teen child with meaningful glance at my wine glass after I'd snapped at her or her father)
  • Maybe if you hadn't drunk so much already (teen child, with contempt, as I refused to help with something or other that yes, he was probably capable of doing but, well, it wouldn't have hurt me to get up and assist)
  • Have you ever thought it might be easier to just stop drinking so much? (teen child, helpfully and hopefully, when I was talking about the latest attempt at diet and exercise)
  • Go and pour yourself another one (husband, with contempt, pissed off that I was snarking at him about something)
  • Maybe don't have another one? (teen child, helpfully, after me breaking one glass of wine by knocking it over and, after cleaning up, heading to the kitchen to replace it)
Ouch. Yes, just a sample.  And not occurring every night or even every week - but maybe once or so a fortnight  in the last year?

So then... choices

I'm not perfect. I'm going to get cranky sometimes sober or not. But I'm going to remember at least one big difference is that when I am sober, I am so aware of how I feel that there's a level of choice in my mood.

I can choose to walk away if I am irritated.
I can choose to use kinder words.
I can choose to see a situation from someone else's point of view.
I can choose to rise above pettiness.
I can choose to set an example of adulting that I'm almost too late to share with my younger children.

And I do. I choose this. I choose to be sober and to be responsible for myself.


Your reward for scrolling this far down the page is a sleeping puppy.  Pic taken earlier this week but as I type she is in almost the same position. Lying over my left toes, under the desk, enjoying her third most important nap of the day.


Tuesday 20 March 2018

Day Eighteen. Who IS this woman who gets excited about fruit juice?

Good JuJu

Mango, pineapple, mint, ginger and lemongrass.
Orange carrot, red capsicum, black carrot, lemon, ginger and turmeric.
Goulburn Valley pear, mango, passionfruit, Thai basil, and cayenne pepper.
Pink lady, raspberry, boysenberry, mint, rose water and lemon.

Am I living in the luckiest era of sobering up ever?

I was doing a quick swipe through the supermarket today when I paused - uncharacteristically - next to the fresh juice cabinet. Guess where some of my first wine-money savings went?

And there is a cordial of lemon, lime, mint and cucumber, and another of red currants, cranberry, and pomegranate, as well as the local Buderim ginger brew.

Juice is for kids

We aren't much of a juice family these days.  The teens mostly drink water or - when nagging prevails - binge on tart soft drinks like Solo or ginger beer. The Prof is a Type 1 diabetic and won't touch juice (he says it takes too long in a hypo but in reality, why waste your sugar fix on juice when you can have lollies?). And generally juice is too sweet for my taste, even when I was a kid myself.

Yet it wasn't so long ago that a couple of big bottles of apple or orange juice were a permanent item on the shopping list and doled out diluted with water or soda water (as per 'good' parenting rules in the noughties).


Wine, or mum-juice, is of course made of fruit.  

'Come over and have some runny grapes,' says a dear friend of mine - I haven't had to reply to that one yet, since Day One, but I am sure she'll be fine with it when I do.  I was a very bad influence on her every time we did get together, opening bottle after bottle and playing cards or pictionary in teams against our husbands, neither of whom were big drinkers.

Last time I saw her, last year,  I drank so much I really did get a hangover, a very rare event because my body was a stunningly efficient alcohol processor by then.  It was one of those nights when I was aware I was going overboard but thought the best answer to that was to have another glass and keep laughing. 

Poor woman.  How bloody horrible for her.

Sigh. Still processing those moments. I imagine it will take some time.

Mum's juice

From mum-juice to Mum's juice: those pretty coloured bottles are mine, along with a glorious new array of teas (sipping on green tea with lemon and ginger just now) and mineral waters galore.  I don't see any reason for sobriety to be dull.

The first sampling tonight was the Lemon, Lime, Cucumber and Mint cordial with soda water and some slices of cucumber.  It was at least as good as the last drink I had with cucumbers (and Hendricks Gin) and in many ways, so much better.

Seriously though: how awesome is it to be sober when there's so much more in the juice section than apple, orange or tomato?


Saturday 17 March 2018

Day Fifteen - in which not drinking is like not hitting your thumb with a hammer (and a puppy in MUD)

Builder's tricks

I don't know how common this saying is, but in my little world we sometimes talk about walking away from a bad situation as being like no longer hitting your thumb with a hammer.

I'm a builder's daughter, and correct hammering and sawing were some of the few useful things my father ever taught me (most of my paternal lessons were observational and involved learning how not to be a functional adult, but more on that another day).

So if you aren't familiar with the hammering scene, the saying conjures the need to keep doing something even though it hurts.  You can't leave a nail half-hammered and you can't let pain get in the way. You are totally focused on the job in front of you and you come to associate the job with the pain as a necessary thing.

It's only when you either become really good at hammering or you stop hammering that you might recall, with a flood of relief, how good it is to not be hitting your thumb with that bloody hammer any more.

Don't examine the analogy too closely, it has all sorts of holes (boom tish), but trust me: there are times in your life when you only know how great something is because you stopped doing the awful thing that had become your very focused normal.

The path to peace, and unbruised thumbs

And here I am, two weeks' done, and the bruises are fading from my metaphorical thumb.

Yesterday, for the first time in a fortnight (let alone pre-sober) I woke up without a dull headache.  It took me an hour or so to realise what was different.  This morning I was a bit headachey again but I had a late (dry) night and sleep was a bit broken so I was not on top of my game anyway.

BUT, here are some things I'm noticing about not hitting my body, brain and spirit with alcoholic hammers every day:
  • hints of inner peace. I would think it's anything like the vaunted 'pink cloud' but of course it's very early days for me yet.  There most obvious thing is a slight slowing of my Popcorn Brain.  Ideas stick with me a bit longer and don't bounce away before I really grasp them.
  • my skin feels about a hundred times softer.  Maybe that's about hydration, as I'm drinking about four litres of extra water and tea every night.
  • flavours. I'm enjoying flavours more and using less salt on my food.  To be fair, this is partly because a month of sub-tropical downpours and humidity have rendered every salt source in the house unusable, but without the grog I find I mind much less!
  • reading non-fiction. I have been reading pretty much constantly since I was three years old (47 years ago) and apart from text books I reckon I've read perhaps six books of non-fiction, total, including biography and autobiography. At first it was falling headfirst into The Sober Diaries and Mrs D Is Going Without, then trying (and rejecting) similar stories but of car-crash style alcoholics who I can't relate to, like the journo in High Sobriety and others.  But now I'm into a looong book called Lost Connections about the nine major non-chemical causes of depression and anxiety (not as grim as it sounds)  and absolutely relishing every page.  I can only reason that this is connected to the aforementioned inner peace and being willing to delve into my own thinking without having to hide from myself.
  • self care not self denial. Friend J called back after the disrupted puppy call and we talked at length about the why of not drinking.  This handy phrase was how we decided to describe the difference between past attempts and my current mindset. In some ways I'm still a long way from traditional self-care (you DO NOT want to imagine the stains on the toenails of a 50 year old woman who can go barefoot most days but is suddenly surrounded by mud), but by not drinking any more, I'm also fully and permanently immersed in caring for myself. And it feels good.
  • time to do things. For a long while now I've been (blearily) wondering how I ever found the time to do more than work and slump.  How did I ever have enough hours in the day to bake cakes, sketch and paint, crochet, read magazines, clean things, garden, visit people and places? Turns out that needing to ensure you get and wallow in your daily alcohol fix takes a lot of time and mental energy.  I'm no DIY dynamo yet, but there's a gleam in my eye and a vision of a gorgeous acre of garden that will outlive me and bring joy.

Muddy puppy

If you've made it this far, you deserve a treat xx 
(Also you've seen too much of the clean, cute and fluffy side of Ms Maggie, here's her inner grot shining through.)


Thursday 15 March 2018

Day 13 and I'm coming out (also a new pic of PUPPY)

Hello Sober World, how ya doing?

I've been busy busy with work upheavals (just don't even ask) and cooking batches of soup, casserole, curries and cakes for two families after my brother had a serious operation last week (my SIL doesn't cook).

I have been quietly working through some sobriety thinking though, and  - ta-da-da-da-duuuuum - I've told a few more people that I've given up drinking.

It's a bit of a weird thing to say, isn't it? 'Oh hey, guess what? I stopped drinking!"

I said it on the phone this morning to my wonderfullest friend J.  She and I have both stopped drinking before, and tried to stick to AFDs and switch to spritzers, or shandies, or alternate wine with water. We gave up together a couple of times, egging each other on to stay strong (I think we almost made it to 10 days once - and that was with free-drinks allowed for the weekend!)

But there it is: I told her I'd stopped and she, gorgeous creature that she is, asked some really sensible questions and we were in the middle of a really good chat about the how and why of this Big Decision when I spotted Naughty Puppy chuffing up the driveway to inspect the chooks at the front fence and I had to bolt (we live on an acre block so it's a short jog but not conducive to conducting phone conversations at the same time).

Puppy break!

Here's today's Naughty Puppy pic, shown hitching a ride to school this morning on Youngest-By-One-Minute's lap.

Ms Maggie's adorableness makes it easy to forgive her anything, even having to run up a muddy driveway in my PJs home office clothes, dumping phone and friend along the way.

The pact

So back to sobriety, and I'm fairly sure the three co-residents (the younger teens and the Prof) of my house have made a pact not to talk about me not drinking.  Either that or they really are all as oblivious to me as I have occasionally suspected. But no, I think there's a pact.  

No one has said anything to me about the lack of wine and the Twenty Zillion new ways to drink fizzy water I'm displaying each night. And I'm very ok with that. I'd like this to just keep ticking along until at least the three month stage before I really talk about it to anyone other than my aforementioned bestie, and my 500+days sober friend, and perhaps my doctor.

Still. It's weird that none of them has even looked at me sideways. 


Day 49 - the art of keeping quiet plus TWO tests at free bars and my appy-appy-joy-joy

I have been busy-busy with work and family and tbh a few times I was wobbly about wine and deliberately didn't blog because I wanted to ...