what would it feel like to drink again?

Had a major drinking dream last night. It came out of nowhere and was one of those ones that feel totally real, even to the point where I was writing to you guys admitting I had done it and reading the kind messages from people telling me to start over, and others from very upset and vulnerable people who were devastated I had let them down and started drinking again themselves.

 

All I did was pick up a glass of wine and drink it at a party, as simple as that. I picked the glass up and downed it like it was normal. Then had another. The feeling of ‘this is so easy to do’ was terrifying.

 

The feeling after the picking up of the two glasses of red of utter relentless disappointment in myself and the message I had sent to others by starting to drink after all this time was like a thousand cuts.

 

Then the relief on waking and of realising it wasn’t true hit the other end of the joy scale. I don’t know why these dreams happen, but I am guessing it is simply my brain reassuring me that if I restarted, the feelings would be unbearable, so don’t go there.

no drinking

Cheese plants never give up

My little story of the day…was at my allotment, yet again pinning down the weed plastic that the unrelenting wind off the North Sea is determined to uplift, and my garden neighbour Mr Flowers appeared with half a cheese plant in his hand and an empty milk carton in the other.

cheese plant

I never found out what the carton was for but the cheese plant he said was a branch from the main plant at the bottom of their stairs which he and his wife call Mary, in honour of his deceased mother (he is pretty elderly) who had the plant for many years before they inherited it.

 

He said that no matter how often ‘Mary’ gets knocked over and bits broken off her, she still refuses to die. Now my thinking is well if a bliddy spangly cheese plant can keep going no matter what, I’m damn sure we all can.

 

I asked him if he thought his dear mum Mary was looking down on him and keeping an eye on him and he said of course, things go missing in his house all the time then reappear in odd places where they could never have ended up and he believed it was her reminding him she was there. He was pretty chilled out about having a haunted house, but in Durham people are pretty stoic about most things, so a few ghosts are unlikely to weird them out.

 

Anyway, the next time you feel like giving up, maybe it might help to think about Mary the survivalist cheeseplant, kindest wishes xxxx

A Top 10 to celebrate two years sober

Thank you to this swan for sharing how good sober feels after two years.
My two year soberversary takes place on Tuesday and knowing I have a busy start to the week work and family wise I thought I would take the time now to write something about this milestone.
I love a list, it must be the planner/organiser in me, so have prepared a top 10 of things that are better now I don’t drink. I have indulged a bit recently in some self pity and “fear of missing out” and I know those feelings can dominate many of our minds, so in my spirit of thinking positively and rejoicing in the good things, I thought an upbeat list would be better. Well here goes:
1. I never have a hangover.
Wow that feeling of waking up and feeling normal just never gets old and I love the fact that in the last two years I have never woken up feeling nauseous, with a throbbing head and dry mouth.
2. My skin and hair are in tip top condition.
I get compliments quite often about how good my skin is and how shiny my hair is. I don’t have a massively expensive or complicated beauty regime and eat relatively well, just a normal balanced diet ( with quite a bit of chocolate) but my skin and hair are the best they have been since I was a teenager. It has got to be down to the lack of alcohol.
3. My weight is stable.
I do have a sweet tooth and eat more sugar than I should. However, I maintain a stable weight and although would like to lose half a stone, I don’t find it as hard to maintain my weight now I am not necking a bottle of wine or two a night.
4. I am brainier!
Yes I know that sounds a bit daft, but since stopping drinking I feel so much sharper mentally and can work harder and achieve so much more. I just feel so much more on the ball.
5. I have more money.
Well not spending upwards of £5000 a year on booze means my husband and I can spend more money on other things we like doing such as family holidays and we even bought a blow up canoe this summer.
6. I am rarely ill.
Yes I am touching wood as I write this () but since stopping drinking I can’t remember the last time I was properly ill. Yes I have had the odd cold and migraine, but I can definitely say I feel a lot healthier. I also don’t have to panic every time I read something linking cancer or Alzheimer’s to drinking.
7. My teeth are in much better condition.
During my last trip to the dentist, I was told my teeth are in much better condition than they were previously and whatever I was doing, to keep it up. I guess the alcohol I used to pour in my mouth each day does your teeth no good as well as sometimes forgetting to brush them as I passed out rather than got ready for bed.
8. I feel free.
I didn’t realise how much alcohol shackles you and ends up making so many decisions for you, until you become free of it. I now don’t have to worry about who is driving, do we have enough drink in, what if I am the one drinking the most, have we booked somewhere for our holiday that is within walking distance of a restaurant, how will I get through this certain day with a hangover etc etc.
9. I am much less anxious.

I still do suffer from the blues and anxiety at times but it is so much better now I don’t drink. I don’t have the 4am strike of fear, where I worry about what I said, who I talked to, did I make an idiot of myself and think oh god why did I drink so much, I hate myself etc. Life isn’t suddenly brilliant, crappy things still happen and sometimes I let negativity way too heavily in my mind, but it is so much easier to kick myself out of it now I am sober.
10. I know I can do anything I want to.
I stopped drinking after a many years of drinking more and more as did my husband. If you knew us prior to late 2013 we were the couple you would have said were least likely to become tee-total, ever! Friends used to joke about having liver transplants after a weekend at our house and we were daily drinking to dangerous levels. I never thought I could be happy and never drink and I never thought I could just not drink, but I can and I did. So really I can do anything I set my mind to – even if I need to remind myself of that fact every now and then.
So two years on, stopping drinking is the best decision I ever made. It is so much worth persevering through the early days and weeks and looking back they were not as hard as I thought they would be. No it wasn’t all plain sailing, sometimes it seemed hard and unfair but in retrospect I have been through worse and survived. Stopping drinking was the kindest act I have ever shown myself and being kind to yourself is as I have learned one of the most important things you can do. Thank-you for listening.

illusions and confusions

Thank you to this dear swan for her share:

 

“Could it be that it’s just an illusion, Putting me back in all this confusion” …sang 80’s band Imagination and think it is very apt for me today as I sit here watching the rain lashing at my window and quite frankly indulging in a bit of a pity party. I am feeling a bit lost and direction less and things are not going quite how I would like, and sadly there have been times when I have been thinking about having a drink.

imagination
I am frustratingly seduced by the glossy Christmas adverts or the TV programmes showing people having fun with a great group of friends and family, always with wine glasses clinking or some expensive whisky being splashed into the crystal cut glasses. Sitting alone with my glass of diet coke in a beaker or cup of tea in a favourite mug feels just a bit like I am missing out on something fun and exciting. That if only I had a couple of glasses of wine, suddenly my life would become like a scene out of Friends or a Marks and Spencer advert. I would suddenly acquire a family who were never selfish and suddenly everyone on my street would all spontaneously start being the best of friends and popping into each other’s houses on a whim. However, I know this all an illusion, albeit a very powerful one at that.

 
My husband remarked to me earlier that he was actually scared to start drinking again. Explaining that the thought of that hangover, the feeling of loss of control, the fear of not knowing what you said/did and where it would inevitably lead to is quite frankly terrifying. And do you know what he is totally right. Drinking is something to fear and the illusion of it being something that enhances our lives is just that, not real. That illusion that drinking somehow adds something positive to our lives, despite all the rubbish stuff it brings is perpetuated all around us. On TV, in films, music, when we go shopping, at sporting events, we are sold the view that drinking is fun, an integral part of enjoyment and fulfilment when we know that is a big fat lie.

 
I was in a restaurant and gig last night in Glasgow and the reality of drinking is really quite unpleasant. It was the couple arguing with each other instead of having fun, it was the loud people at the bar shouting loudly and incoherently at each other whilst annoying everyone else trying to listen to an amazing singer then getting asked to leave, it was the young man vomiting into the gutter after staggering out of bar advertising shots at 90p and young women wondering aimlessly and staring vacantly as they tried to remember where they were. We never get sold this reality of events – can you imagine the adverts?

 
Once I have taken my head out of my backside, I rejoice once again in being free from the shackles of alcohol and all the negative crap that comes with drinking. I know I need to find my inner peace and happiness elsewhere. That is the more difficult thing right now as I am not sure how to do this but I do know the answer does not lie in a bottle of wine or three. Facing up to life and learning to deal with it as you are is hard, and at 42 I am just trying to figure all this out.

Five empty bottles

 

Thank you to this amazing swan for her share:

 

I hosted the evening for my book group meeting on Friday, which, had I been still drinking, would have been extremely stressful for me- although I would have identified the stress feelings as excitement and anticipation for the evening. Normally, I would have felt excited (anxious) all day and these feelings would have been centred around the fact that I was going to be able to have a drink with friends and know they would all be drinking too.
On Friday I was completely unstressed, instead of madly cleaning all day, trying to occupy myself and make the time go more quickly until (I could have a drink) everyone arrived, I started a painting! I have wanted to do this for so long! Ok, it’s not brilliant, but so what? I had the most relaxing and enjoyable day and have found that painting really keeps me calm:)

ali pic

The evening was a total success, for once, I managed to offer food and drinks around and everyone enjoyed themselves. In total there were 10 of us, the bottle count, when I cleared up -after driving someone home (what??!) was 5 empty bottles. I would dread to think what that may have been if I’d been participating, also, getting up to a tidy house, not retching all over the place and going to a craft fair made a very pleasant Saturday. Also, I mustn’t forget absolutely no paranoia and shame ridden texts to all my friends, apologising for my behaviour. Here is my very unfinished picture, which taught me a lot…

Never again, not tonight again

addict

Thank you for this share from an inspirational lady:

Hello dear swans, today marks 6 months from the day I made my mind up to really give this a shot. The couple of weeks before I was drinking every day, and the months before my weekend drinking was getting out of control. I made so many promises to myself, every Saturday morning in fact, not to experience the hellish hangover I was invariably fighting off. In fact, I was beginning to stop fighting it, and just wallowing in it. What I mean by fighting it is, you know, getting up, dragging myself out of bed, coffee on and off to the gym to sweat it out, all the while beating the be jaysus out of myself and saying, never again, not tonight again and all the rest of the negative stuff that would flood into my mind as I pounded the treadmill.

Laterally I wasn’t even managing that, I was just wallowing in bed, feeling low, berating myself and comfort eating with huge breakfasts.

I remember the weeks prior to stopping I was coming to the decision of going for it again, I was reading a lot of blogs and in the contemplation / preparation phase. But that for me also gave me the permission to binge on it with abandon. Crazy?!

So the Saturday before I stopped I binged on red wine and snack food so much that I had some wine left in the bottom of the bottle. Sunday was supposed to be day 1 but no, I had to drink that last glass as it didn’t even enter into my head to pour it down the sink! So Monday became day 1, the first few weeks before I found SWAN I watched, read and listened to as much sober stuff on line. That’s what I did of an evening. Fridays were dire to begin with but I made sure I had things planned for the first few. For me it got easier as I became more aware of the sense of calm stopping brought me. The overwhelming sense of relief that I was able to do this & the penny dropping that it was alcohol that was compounding my depression.

A few weeks later I found you lovely people and that definitely has been the making of this attempt. My sobriety also became number 1 priority and I refused social occasions at the start, I walked away from situations to avoid triggers, no matter what others thought of me. It was the only way for me.

I was thinking of others struggling at the start, and a couple of things other than above helped me. I have a counter app on my phone which I like to look at occasionally to remind myself, and also because my memory for numbers is dreadful! I use “Quit That” and also “Drinks Meter” which allows you to enter what you were/ are drinking and examine possible consequences. It was designed by a health professional with an interest in alcohol misuse and excellent I think. Re SWAN It took me a while to start sharing but as I’ve said before, having that connection and non-judgemental feedback & support has taught me so much about this “thing” we are all trying to do.

A prize if you managed to read this far – a ramble as per usual.

Thank you all who have supported, given me your pearls of wisdom, or just sent me a hug from time to time.

Ye are the best xxx

 

Binki adds: if you would like to join a confidential support group on Facebook please friend request me and I will add you.

into sober year two

love

Thank you to this swan member for her heart warming share:

Today marks the beginning of the second year of my sober life.

It seems no big deal now, however remembering how it seemed so huge to even contemplate three days , thirty days, 3 months six months much less an entire year makes no sense to me now. I no longer choose to put poison in my body no matter how pretty, well marketed, delicious or restful it is presented.

It’s the same as saying I don’t like soda pop drinks, or sweet coffee drinks, those beverages won’t kill me and its very socially acceptable that I don’t care for them, however when I say I don’t drink alcoholic beverages that shocks people. Do they feel sorry for me that I don’t drink sweet drinks? No .

Now when asked in any situation what I would like to drink, I just say club soda, water, tea or coffee, I don’t say anything about alcohol I don’t even mention that I don’t drink it. That works for me. I continue to educate myself and keep books about the reality of alcohol in supply for those who want to know more.

I do want to get my one year coin from AA, I’m shallow enough to want the complete set from my year, and to acknowledge the accomplishments that come with being sober financially, physically and spiritually. This is what I celebrate! It’s an extremely pleasant body of water we SWANS choose to swim in.

Substitute Addictions

This is a very interesting post!

What...Me Sober?

There are two kinds of addictions. Substance Addictions create pleasure through the use of products that are taken into the body. and include all mood-altering drugs (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc.), food-related disorders such as overeating, and so forth.

Process Addictions, in contrast, consist of behavior that leads to mood-altering events that provide pleasure and distraction from our core issues, to which we can also become addicted.

imagesWhen we get right down to it, recovery from addiction is about learning to deal with the stresses of life in a healthy way, “living life on life’s terms,” as they say in the 12-Step rooms. Early in recovery these stresses include the process of learning to do without our drugs of choice, whether chemical or external. This is withdrawal, and it creates a very real chance that we may look for and find other addictions to take their place.

Some of the…

View original post 585 more words

I worship this lady: Louise Hay

 

From her Facebook page, I hope she doesn’t mind. Her achievements are those I want to model.  I think it is so important for recovery to model the people we admire. Binki
Treasure each year of your life.

I’m going to be 85 this Saturday. I choose to see my life moving in different directions, all of them equally good. Some things are even better now than the way they were in my youth. My younger years were filled with fear; my todays are filled with confidence.

My own life really didn’t begin to have meaning until I was in my mid-40s. At the age of 50, I began my publishing company on a very small scale. The first year I made a profit of $42. At 55, I ventured into the world of computers. They scared me, but I took classes and overcame the fear. Today I have three computers and travel with my iPad everywhere! At 60, I had my first garden. At this same time, I enrolled in a children’s art class and began to paint. At 70 and 80, I was more creative and my life continues to get richer and fuller.

I am constantly reading and studying. I own a very successful publishing company and have two non-profits. I’m a dedicated organic gardener. I grow most of my own food. I love people and parties. I have many loving friends. I also am still painting and taking classes. My life has really become a treasure chest of experiences.

I want to help you create a conscious idea of your later years, to help you realize that these can be the most rewarding years of your life. Know that your future is always bright, now matter what your age. See your later years becoming your treasure years.

Instead of just getting old and giving up and dying, let’s learn to make a huge contribution to life. We have the time, we have the knowledge, and we have the wisdom to move out into the world with love and power. Step forward, use your voice, get out in the world and LIVE!

Let’s affirm: I rejoice in each passing year of my life.

http://www.louisehay.com/

https://www.facebook.com/louiselhay?fref=ts

 

I’m so grateful to have escaped the trap

Swans

Thank you to this swan for her update:

After a wobbly start to the day – I woke up worrying about something from work yesterday which turned out ok in the end – but anyway, as I was driving to work I saw this young(ish) guy walking his daughter to school, well not walking really as they were skipping along together and having such a giggle it was so lovely and heartwarming to see. It made me slightly saddened as my daughter will neve experience that kind of joy with her dad because of his alcoholism and total denial of the problem.


Once in work I realised the muck up from yesterday had actually worked out ok, for all the wrong reasons, but I had ultimately it turned out done the right thing (phew) but then we had a guy come to give us a talk about the work his charitable group does, it was listening to him which made me realise just how far I’ve come in the last 4yrs as they as a group helped me out in a crisis moment when my hubby left me as good as bankrupt, not caring that we (me and our daughter) could be almost as good as homeless for all he cared. This group helped me get together the deposit for a rental along with financial help for a tank of fuel oil to heat the new home. My god I will never be able to repay this kindness as that kind of help and support is priceless.


Becoming alcohol free for me is one of the next steps I have taken to taking back the reins of my life, just like I didn’t want my daughter being ashamed that her dad was of one of the local alcoholics in our old community, I knew I needed to sort myself out to as it would be so easy to head that way myself with the way I was heading with my own drinking – it’s ironic really that it was only after he left that my own drinking started to worsen. Allen Carr’s book likens alcohol and that slippery slope so well by comparing it to the venus fly trap, I’m so grateful to have escaped the trap and hope never to start slipping down again.

I function, so what’s the problem?

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Things that told me I was addicted to alcohol despite holding down a job (sometimes three at once), home, family relationships, managing money and staying ‘healthy’ through the gym, running and eating well – in other words despite functioning in life were:

– Choosing a drink instead of eating as it kept the weight down (not the bloat though) and anyway after a few drinks I lost my appetite.

– Finding that as the years went on I was getting fewer really major hangovers and just felt shit all the time, but dealt with it by keeping busy and making a joke of it, as so much in my life.

– Really anxious, panicky, irritable when a drink wasn’t likely in the evening, such as if I had to work late or social pressures meant proper drinking (meaning heavy drinking) was off the radar.

– My character changed after a drink; my husband has lately told me how he dreaded me drinking because I became aggressive and snappy, or else too lazy to be bothered with anything and he also often felt lonely when I drank. Or I would do/say impulsive things which didn’t make sense. Either way, I wasn’t Binki.

– I could never leave a bottle till it was fnished, and the thought of that unfinished bottle was enough to drive me crazy. Likewise a glass had to be emptied (even someone else’s). If having people round or going out to eat, the table shouldn’t have any half finished drinks on it and the alcohol bill was often bigger than the food bill, but that was a sign of a good night.

– There was always a part of the previous evening that I couldn’t remember, quite often the end of it, and the details would be filled in by others, quite often as a joke, but sometimes as a developing row.

– If anyone tried to confront or talk to me me about the possibility that I was drinking too much I would be defensive, or at the very least deflect the conversation, again wth a joke. I would metaphorically delete the conversation.

– I could always explain why I had to have a drink. Very rationally and articulately. There was always a very good reason. Unshakeable reasons.

– I sometimes hid alcohol. My husband for instance was given a bottle of Jack Daniels for his birthday once and I told him I had chucked it out as I didn’t want alcohol in the house (another vain attempt to ‘cut down’) but actually it was hidden by me under the sink and I had sips from it as I cooked each night. He perfectly well knew where it was! I also kept vodka in the freezer under the frozen chips etc with the same motive, not to mention the open wine behind the pans in the kitchen to glug from while the petite glassful sat untouched in the living room.

These were some of my signs – I was functioning in life and people with passing acquaintance assumed I was normal in the most part…but really my daily battles with cravings took up most of my thought processes, looking back. If you have read any of the above and thought me too, I hope you are now enjoying your sobriety and you have surely done the right thing.

If you are reading this and thinking, I still do that, please do know there is much support out there on social networking, in face to face support groups and in the form of professional help, but you must come out of denial before you can move on, just as myself and my sober companions eventually had to do – many of us after decades of drinking, as a ‘functional’ person in life. It can be done.

saying sorry makes it all better (not)

I don’t go to AA meetings and don’t agree with everything AA says, but I do take a lot of strength from many of the teachings and words written. I am currently thinking about ‘amends’ and found this post interesting (link below), especially when Bill is talking about recovery not just being about not drinking, but about being a functioning, healthy person all round. How making amends is not just saying sorry to others (and yourself) but about living and thinking in a way that shrugs off old habits; for example removing thinking and acting like a victim where you believe it is other people’s job to make you feel better. Sober thinking comes from within and is probably the hardest thing we will ever do, to think sober. That’s where I am at anyway, and I am having to pull myself up on a lot of victim type thinking.

Thanks for this, Bill:

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m clean and sober now, and I’ll never do it again!”

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and it seems to me a good day to talk about making amends.

imagesThe idea of making amends confused me in the early days of my sobriety. I knew I was supposed to do it, but I really had no idea of what to do or how to go about it. I equated it with saying “I’m sorry.” I was well-practiced at that, as most addicts are, but somehow it didn’t seem like enough. That was how I went about it, though, and pretty quickly. I suppose I had a sponsor, but I wasn’t big on taking advantage of sponsorship (or taking direction), and I saw recovery as more or less an event, rather than a process. Thus I was gung ho, ready to go — and far from being in the know.

That went about as you would expect. Some people, like my mother, didn’t know how to express their anger to begin with, saw forgiveness as a duty (staunch Catholic), and so welcomed me back to the fold with open arms and a load of hidden resentment, I’m sure. Others took a wait-and-see attitude, and some refused to consider the idea — vehemently. And of course I was going about it all wrong, because I didn’t yet have the skills to make amends believably.

I was still going about it in the old junkie way: “Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m clean and sober now, and I’ll never do it again!” Of course they’d heard that tale before, and weren’t likely to greet it with much more enthusiasm this time, whether or not they put a polite face on it.

That’s not the way we make amends.

First, we demonstrate by the way we’re living our lives that we have changed. Then we make sure that we have something useful to say, because making amends isn’t just saying “I’m sorry.” Making amends is saying, “I hurt you, I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again to you or anyone else, and I’m going to do ______ to make it up to you. And then we carry out our promises, thus proving our point: that we’re sincere, and we can now be trusted to do the right thing.

We need also to be aware that forgiveness does not imply trust. Just because my Aunt Bessie forgives me for pawning her silverware and “losing” the ticket, doesn’t mean that she’s obliged to leave me in the pantry unattended; she’s not even obligated to invite me to dinner. Those are her choices and her issues to deal with.

Which brings me to the purpose of the whole exercise. Making amends is about me; it’s not about the other person. What they think of me is none of my business, but what I think about myself is everything to my recovery. I need to know that I’ve done the next right thing, that I’ve been sincere, that I’ve done it properly. That’s why we don’t do it right away.

When we’re first abstinent, we haven’t had practice in being really sincere; we’ve stifled our consciences and convinced ourselves that we were the ones wrong — that our behavior was in some way justified. We aren’t equipped to handle the emotions involved with making amends: dealing with angry people, people who cry, folks who simply blow the whole thing off.

Most importantly, we don’t really know if we can carry out our promises — it’s early days. If we relapse we may make it back, but we’ll have disappointed or reinforced the doubts of those whom we were trying to make things right, thus making things worse, not better.

The Steps come in order for a reason. They each prepare us for the one that follows, and there are eight of them before the amends process. To begin with, we make amends by doing our best. When we have proven ourselves — to ourselves — then we’re ready to prove it to others.

http://whatmesober.com/2015/09/23/oh-im-so-sorry-im-clean-and-sober-now-and-ill-never-do-it-again/

205th sober morning

swanpic

Thank you to this swan member for sharing:

Today I am so very grateful to be lying here in a warm, clean bed writing to you. To have woken on my 205th morning sober and to fully appreciate all that it brings;

Clarity
Peace of mind
Confidence
Learning to love myself and respect myself again
Respect of my husband, children, family, friends and co-workers
Determination/drive to improve and succeed
To no longer miss alcohol even on Fridays
Rediscovering my sense of humour and learning to laugh sincerely
Appreciation of the beauty and day to day miracles around me
Empathy rather than apathy
Time .. Why did I waste so much time when it is truly so precious
Physically I am loving the marked improvements and so very grateful for:
Looking fresh faced without makeup
Stomach no longer inflamed
A new found love of exercise
Lack of headaches that made me look more aged
Plumper, hydrated skin
Whiter teeth

Lots lots more but as today is a Sunday and I really love Sundays. I need to be up and about as I don’t intend to waste a second of it …Brand new day … Clean fresh page …

This time two years ago

flowersblue

Thank you to this swan for her share and to the other swan for donating the beautiful picture!

This day 2 years ago I relapsed after an alcohol free summer. It was the beginning of a fast track descent into madness, chaos and is as close to the bottom as I ever want to get.

It was herbal sleeping drops which started me off. The compulsion after ingesting these was too overpowering and I got a bottle of wine to round off summer. Within a week I was secretly drinking, within a couple of weeks I couldnt function without alcohol in my system.

I did manage to dry out for a few days, maybe a week but a row with hubs over something really trivial sent me back at the start of October when 24/7 drinking took over for ten days. I know how quickly I was overcome, I`m amazed at the events that ensued to bring me to the brink of loosing my family, job and home.

I know how powerless I was over drinking, I honestly thought I would die without it and the series of coincidences which brought me to my first AA meeting which saved me. I’m certainly not advocating AA as the only way but for me it worked and more, it gave me a better life, a way of thinking which relieves the mental obsession and introduced me to some amazing, inspirational people.

I’m so glad to be sober this UK bank holiday and to have people in AA and Swans to share the joys of sober living. I don’t get to as many meetings as I need to so am so grateful to swans as I’m sure I’d have fallen without everyone’s support.

[Binki says: if you would like to join either of the confidential ‘swan’ support groups on Facebook please friend Binki Laidler and she will add you.]

A big moment for Demi

Thanks to Staying Strong 24/7 for their blog, and this article is a couple of years old but shows she has worked hard to overcome her addiction demons – great role model.

demi lovato
Demi Lovato opens up about heavy use of cocaine, alcohol
By Christie D’Zurilla

Demi Lovato said she hit bottom when she was on the way to the airport at 9 a.m. with a Sprite bottle filled with vodka, headed back to a sober-living facility she was staying at and throwing up in the car. She said she realized that was alcoholic behavior.

Demi Lovato said she hit bottom when she was on the way to the airport at 9 a.m.… (Mike Windle / Getty Images )

Demi Lovato may have been shy a few years back about her reasons for going to rehab, but these days she’s holding nothing back, telling all about the drug and alcohol abuse that saw her hitting bottom when she was only 19 years old.

Cocaine every half hour and a Sprite bottle full of vodka were the toxic cherries on top of her eating-disorder sundae, she told “Access Hollywood” in an exclusive interview she did Monday accompanied by her mother, Dianna De La Garza.

“With my drug use, I could hide it to where I would sneak drugs,” the now 21-year-old said. “I couldn’t go 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes.”

She said she would “smuggle it basically” and wait until the rest of First Class tuned out, and then she’d sneak to the bathroom to do it, even though she had a sober companion keeping an eye on her.

De La Garza said she had an idea that her daughter was doing drugs but “for a long time I was in denial.” She said she didn’t actually see Demi, and wanted to believe her daughter when she said things were OK.

Lovato said she hit bottom when she was on the way to the airport at 9 a.m. with a Sprite bottle filled with vodka, headed back to a sober-living facility she was staying at and throwing up in the car. She said she realized that was alcoholic behavior.

“When I hit that moment I was like, it’s no longer fun when you’re doing it alone,” “The X Factor” judge told “Access.”

Mother and daughter also learned they had something in common during Demi’s struggles: Both had eating disorders, and both had to deal with them.

Lovato said hers began well before her teen years, when she was 8 or 9, starting with binge eating then flipping to starving herself and making herself throw up.

“It got really difficult [and] I would throw up and it would just be blood and it was something that I realized if I don’t stop this, I am going to die,” she said.

Fortunately, Lovato got the help she needed — and both women said they’re now stronger as a family for it.

staying strong 24/7

I just witnessed an incredible performance by Demi Lovato on the VMAs. She absolutely rocked that stage.

Before she performed, she prayed and repeated “I am enough” multiple times into the microphone. She has a lot of courage and strength and took it with her on stage today, which is just amazing and something a lot of us are not able to do.

I am very proud of her. I’ve watched her grow. I’ve watched her

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Thank you GOD (Group Of Drunks)

calm

Thank you to this lovely swan member for her share:

This time last year I was planning my last night of drinking (not that I knew) the wine was in the freezer, the vodka in the back of the cupboard and denial firmly at the front of my mind. The anticipation of waiting till 7pm always killed me…but I had my rules. With hindsight, I can look back and think how lucky I have been. I reached an internal rock bottom, hitting a ledge I’d say…what I can see now is that all the rules I had in place, some broken and re written already, would have eventually been broken over again. Who knows where that ledge would have propelled me had I bounced off. It doesn’t bear thinking about, to be honest I’ve seen first hand where with my parents.


I thank my g.o.d (my group of drunks…please excuse me calling you that, I promise it is an endearment) and my higher power as I see and feel it. I am grateful to be here and I’m grateful to be sober. This was my big vegan breakfast followed by cake, which I ate before snapping! I’m planning on celebrating all week! 💙

Tamzin Sharma's photo.
What a difference a year makes. I am so amazed that I’ve done this!! To think that this time last year was the last time I woke up hungover and full of fear and shame.

I love to write a list…so here are two.

10 things I have given up over the last year…

1. Trying to please people
2. Living with resentments
3. Guilt and shame about my past
4. Worrying about the future
5. Worrying about making a mistake
6. Putting myself down
7. Opiates (codeine)
8. Worrying about eating lovely food
9. Overthinking
10. Alcohol

10 things I have gained this year…

1. Peace and calm
2. A better connection with my children and husband
3. A love of yoga and meditation
4. A love of food
5. Contentment with what I have
6. A few lb’s (but that’s ok :-))
7. Relief from the obsession of addiction
8. Happiness, health and humour
9. New friendships
10. Confidence

I couldn’t have done 1-9 of the first list without doing number 10 and I couldn’t have done any of it without this page [Facebook group via Binki Laidler] or Soberistas website…this year has been a revelation…please know, wherever you are on you path, this is within your grasp too, there are no set rules (except don’t drink :-)) we need to find our own right way. Trust me, if I have done it and I was a right old mess, you can too!

Hot spot and sober

Good to be back from our first foreign holiday since 2010, when we got married. We revisited the same island, Kefalonia, this year and there are photos here! Sorry about the gormless woman photobombing some of them.

It was a first for me in that going abroad to a hot country sober was something I have never done since childhood, as in previous holidays I would drink every day from noon onwards. We met a few couples who were intent on doing the same – one foursome in a bar proudly recounted drinking right through till 8am then back on it after a few hours sleep on the beach. Older than us. It was obviously the Brits who sat and drank mostly, other nationalities just had a couple of beers with meals and for most there was little evidence of alcohol at all.

We had a visit to a winery and hubs was worried about the effect on me but to be honest the huge metal vats, rubber pipes and the production line reminded me that whatever it costs or however posh it is supposed to be, alcohol is a chemical produced using industrial processes the same as any other drug. Stuff the romance.

So the wobble initially just went and I got a kick out of my sparkling water and enjoying early mornings by the pool, clear headed and frankly, smug. I had more energy this year older and more wrinkly than as a tired and bloated honeymooner five years ago, then with my eyelash extensions and botox and manicure and swollen liver – I could barely get my hungover backside away from the pool last time but this time we explored every day, tramped about, talked to people, loved each other.

I cannot begin to express my joy at how different I feel this time round, which is why I guess I wanted to celebrate by posting. Two weeks went by in the blink of an eye, but to be honest when I think about being in year three now of sobriety, that has passed like lightening too. It is hard in the beginning but the more firsts you get under your belt, the more your self-esteem rises and it begins to feel like a real achievement, the then and now. Please keep going and try to remember to celebrate your own good times because that is what being sober is all about.

It’s my birthday today and I have now entered my fiftieth year – next year is the big 50 – and I am calling it Project 50, because I really want to go on to achieve more sober ‘stuff’ before my half century that I can look back on think, yeah I frigging well did that myself. What’s your personal project for 2015-16? Hope it brings you joy.

Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.
Binki Laidler's photo.

Learning by doing

bee
Everyone has a different learning style and for many of us the only way to get the hang of something (like not drinking) is by actually trying it out. We can read and talk and learn from others but until we actually do it for ourselves the words mean nothing. I found this story to illustrate learning by doing:

I recently had the excellent experience of a days off road rally driving adventure with one of my bestest mates in the world. This all took place in Yorkshire on a WWII airfield. All in a rear wheel souped up purpose built car.

So all I wanted was to experience driving. To do it. Here is what happened.

One of the driving tutors did an introductory speech, before we were allowed into the cars. This consisted of an energetic build up, which was very good and then they went into ‘how’ a rear wheel drive car works and how we ( the participants – all 11 of us ) should drive the car.

I switched off ( you surprised? ) just after 10 minutes of explanations of what was coming and how to do it – explanations of experience. I was literally chomping at the bit, ready to get into the car and just do it. I want the physical experience without all of the explanations. See for me, I much prefer doing something and then maybe talking about it; after the experience …

Luck would have it, I had the same tutor as a driving instructor. After lap one they had me pull up and then went into an explanation of what I should do on the next lap. I know they meant well but their explanations where not helping me build up my experiential knowledge of driving the car. So I told them that what they were saying wasn’t helping me learn to drive.

They responded that they had never been told that before and immediately went into more ‘helpful’ hints and tips. At that point I simply said “Shut up …and help me”. I told them that their help while driving was extremely useful ( it was ) but all this ‘if you had done’, ‘what you should do at corner ‘x’ was to me really unwanted at my present level of experience.

They said they would work with me and went into a story that they had helped a man with severe brain damage successfully drive the car by just offering tips while driving. I said that was a good idea; still not sure about the brain damage.
But hey …

Well, when the competition started; Yes there was a competition, set up
between male and female drivers ( ??? ). With the real assistance of my tutor I did come second place overall. Now, I was never for one heart beat interested in a competition on that day, I am guessing that comes much later when I have the skills to race! Vroooom vrooommm!

So here is my point. When we are learning a new skill, by choice or by
necessity, there is nothing wrong and everything right with demanding an
experiential learning.

When we were little, much younger, we learned to speak and walk
( things we are naturally excellent at ) by experience and not via verbal
description. This is my much preferred and valued learning style.

What is yours? How do you learn at your best? Is the actual experience of not drinking the way you learned how to do it, or did you/do you learn better by seeing/reading/hearing how others do it? If you know your learning style, you are potentially much more likely to succeed at anything you choose to do.

Amy Winehouse charity gives school talks about addiction and empathy

Foundation set up in singer’s memory visits hopes to counter abuse of drugs and alcohol in young people

 amy
The parents of Amy Winehouse set up the foundation.

Dominic Ruffy tells pupils about his first day at school: “I remember standing in the playground and a group of kids were talking about their summer holidays. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m so boring.’ I’d just spent three weeks in California and I went over to talk to these kids, trying to make friends, and out of my mouth came, ‘When I was in America I saw Ghostbusters’.”

There was only one problem. It was a blatant lie. “So I made up this 45-minute story about what I hoped and prayed Ghostbusters was going to be about and, of course, I looked a proper idiot when it came out in Britain three months later.”

It seems an innocuous enough tale, but Ruffy now believes it should have been a warning sign.

“I didn’t know that that was an early expression of me not feeling comfortable in my own skin, of not feeling I had enough self-esteem just to be me. Therefore, when we were at parties and I was 13 and a cool bunch of kids were passing joints around, then, of course, I’m going to take it because I’m doing everything I can to fit in.

“I didn’t know I was going to be one of those kids who would fall in love with those substances and would immediately start selling from home to fund it. Self-esteem is the underlying issue. It affects everything. Once you get kids talking about how they feel about themselves, about their friends, that’s the key.”

At 30 Ruffy was a heroin addict. But today he is clean and the resilience programme director of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up to help prevent drug and alcohol misuse among young people.

The groundbreaking programme, which sees former addicts visit schools to share their experiences, was born from the painful experiences of Winehouse’s parents, Mitch and Janis, when they were touring rehab clinics trying to find the right help for their daughter.

“The consistent message they got from people in rehab was that they’d never had any constructive education in school about drugs and alcohol,” Ruffy said. “They’d had policemen in. They’d been told, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that’, but nobody had ever gone in and talked to them about their feelings and emotions like we do.”

The programme, formed in partnership with specialist addiction charity Addaction, aims to reach 250,000 pupils within five years. A year into the programme, 87 volunteers have been trained and a further 60 are in training. All the volunteers have overcome significant personal issues, which Ruffy explains is the key to connecting with young people.

“I tell that story [about Ghostbusters]and you can hear a pin drop. We’ve had the known school bully break down and say, ‘I did not know that me ripping the mickey out of the ginger kid in the corner might lead to him using drugs when he was older.’ If we can help these kids overcome their emotional wellbeing issues, they’re less likely to do drugs when they’re older. Empathy is the big thing. It’s getting honest with the kids and allowing them to get honest with us.”

The programme – now operating in 11 regions in the UK – appears to be urgently needed. Government figures released last week show the number of pupils excluded from secondary school for drug and alcohol issues is rising. Meanwhile, the latest Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use survey shows that just over half of pupils believe they are not given enough information about drug use.

Some experts believe that encouraging children to talk about drink and drugs at school glamorises addiction. But Ruffy says: “We’re very specific. We don’t go in there and talk about violence in crack houses or getting high on the street.”

Others question whether the programme, which is supported by a £4.3m grant from the Big Lottery fund, is worth the money.

However, an interim report conducted by an independent team of experts from Harvard University and the University of Bath, shared with the Observer, has found that more than 70% of pupils who were questioned about their experience of the programme believed they were better equipped to manage self-esteem, cope with peer pressure and avoid risky behaviours associated with substance use.

A similar proportion said they had greater confidence to make safer decisions about alcohol or drug use. It is the first time an independent study has tried to evaluate the impact of a drug and alcohol awareness programme in schools and the foundation hopes the results will attract more funding from government and the private sector. If so, then Amy Winehouse’s parents hope some good will come from their daughter’s death.“The resilience programme is the legacy that Amy will leave,” Ruffy said. “It is a place where young people feel safe, where they can open up and talk about how they feel.”

third August and stilll healing

rainbow

 

I still get up early Saturday and Sunday mornings, just for the simple fact of being able to enjoy the morning view across our little valley, to have the peace and quiet, but without the need to get going down the road quicksharp.

The cloud formations are a hundred shades of grey (hesitate to say fifty!) today and everywhere is dripping wet,but it is so good to wake up with a clear head. I don’t think I will ever get sick of this feeling of relief that I am sober. This gratitude that I am no longer at the mercy of alcohol. I associate so many bad things that have happened in my life and that I have done with being drunk and in many ways that is a healthy association for me personally, because it keeps that apprehension about alcohol close.

I read about people being nostalgic about the good times when they were partying and having that drink and I think, it just wasn’t like that, not for me anyhow. I associate drinking with pain. I think of loneliness, grief, fear and stress. I have no good associations with drinking. I have moved forward to forgiving myself and others which is a major step towards inner peace, but there is still pain.

The thing is though, that the longer the sober days, weeks, months and then years go on, the less the pain, and the greater the inner peace. It is worth getting over the ‘firsts’ to go on to the ‘seconds’ and then the ‘thirds’ as I and others are having now, it is so worth it. This is my third August without drinking and no one is more surprised than me!

To conclude, Louise Hay is a heroine of mine and I would like to share a recent post of hers on Facebook:

I have found that there is only one thing that heals every problem, and that is: to love yourself. When people start to love themselves more each day, it’s amazing how their lives get better. They feel better. They get the jobs they want. They have the money they need. Their relationships either improve, or the negative ones dissolve and new ones begin.

Loving yourself is a wonderful adventure; it’s like learning to fly. Imagine if we all had the power to fly at will? How exciting it would be! Let’s begin to love ourselves now.

Here are 12 Commandments to help you learn how to love yourself:

1. Stop All Criticism.

Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2. Forgive Yourself.

Let the past go. You did the best you could at the time with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that you had. Now you are growing and changing, and you will live life differently.

3. Don’t Scare Yourself.

Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It’s a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure, and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.

4. Be Gentle and Kind and Patient.

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved.

5. Be Kind to Your Mind.

Self-hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Don’t hate yourself for having the thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.

6. Praise Yourself.

Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.

7. Support Yourself.

Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.

8. Be Loving to Your Negatives.

Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.

9. Take Care of Your Body.

Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need in order to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.

10. Do Mirror Work.

Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself while looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents while looking into the mirror. Forgive them, too. At least once a day, say, I love you, I really love you!

11. Love Yourself . . . Do It Now.

Don’t wait until you get well, or lose the weight, or get the new job, or find the new relationship. Begin now—and do the best you can.

12. Have Fun.

Remember the things that gave you joy as a child. Incorporate them into your life now. Find a way to have fun with everything you do. Let yourself express the joy of living. Smile. Laugh. Rejoice, and the Universe rejoices with you!

Learning to love myself again

Swans

Thank you to this swan for sharing her progress.

I had an epic fail which may have ended up in the paper (so far, it hasn’t) and being such a small country town, reporters report on everything and have been known to face book stalk you and make comments in their article. So I deactivated for a bit.

So I’m back. I’ve read a lot of books about people like me/us, and grabbed a lot of different things from every one of them. I haven’t always agreed with everything however. I used to be the bottle of wine per night person, and more on the weekends until nearly two years ago now, my Dr unnecessarily (as I found out later) put the fear of god into myself and I stopped drinking during the week. Which was hard at first, but okay. Which made me re-examine the rest of my drinking and why I did it. It made me think, well I can stop. Even after a bad day – I can stop at one.

I realised why I drank on the weekends – I have crippling social anxiety and lack of self confidence and the weekends are actively social. So I drank before I went out – I needed the confidence boost just to get out the damned door. So, of course, the inevitable. I got wasted, ended up with wrong men and wondering who I needed to apologise to for my behaviour for the night before. At best.

Drinking heavily before has also made me realise the bad choices I made. Maybe not bad, but could have been better. I live with those choices now and am determined to work around them. Surprisingly, there are a few of my friends who realise at our age, we can’t recover like we used to. So no more mad parties, it’s dinners. No more festivals, it’s bbqs and camping. It’s new hobbies like photography (getting up early and taking sunrise pictures) and gardening, to name a few.

So my social scene is evolving. Feel like a baby walking and a wee bit lonely, but evolving. It means shifting from most of my friends now, and truth be told, GOF. It means getting tougher, learning how to stand up for myself. Now I realise how much people were taking the piss out of me. I used to laugh it off. Now, “um no. That stopped being funny about five sarcastic comments ago. I’m not stupid, so stop talking to me like I am.” Before, I just would have laughed it off. If I stopped and thought about it – “ah no. Stop it! Don’t think about it. Have another drink.”

I’ve cried a lot and screamed a lot (literally) I’ve had my set backs but I am not going to hate myself for that. I figure you don’t fail until you quit. Every set back has taught me something different. Ok, fight with husband. You got drunk. Did that fix it? Did the worry go away? No, now you just feel and look like shit, and you can’t remember exactly what he said last night so you can’t discuss it properly when you’re sober.

For me, I’ve learned that this journey is not about being alcohol dependent, it’s learning to love myself again. If I loved myself, I wouldn’t need drink to give me confidence. I would be already.

What do you do with your evil twin?

swan

Hi, wanted to share with you some interesting thoughts about our ‘evil twin’ sent to me by my NLP coach:

Hi {Binki}
Have you ever had the privilege of baby sitting? Not something I do regularly but, the times I have, I am often amazed at the range of emotions a toddler can display in just a matter of moments.

Sure, a toddler or baby wouldn’t be classifying their experience in that way, and that my friend is, a real, if not the real skill! They have no concept of what we as adults categorise as an emotion, never mind the labels … think about it!

Adults all too often seem to forget this natural ability, to be able to experience a full range of emotions. As adults we often become accustomed to a less complete range (related to the concept of small ego, should not’s and should’s) and as one consequence, can experience what I will call emotional constipation. I think the term is very appropriate!

As a therapist, change professional or coach, there is often both a tendency to focus on our client feeling good at the end of a session and their outcome focus as some kind of completion. Both of these in my opinion have the potential to distract from the real generative process of change.

Joseph Campbell is very famous, among other things, for the phrase “follow your bliss”. There is another form of this and it is “follow your wound”. I first heard this wonderful statement from Bill O’Hanlon. The real skill here is using either your wound or your bliss to make a genuine and heart felt difference in the world and certainly your own well being.

This to me, means integrating and accepting pain, pleasure and your evil twin, Skippy! Who has a great deal of energy to offer you. If you will welcome them in.

There is a real power to be gained and it’s about acknowledging and welcoming, yes, welcoming your wound, or the parts of you that are pulling against the small ego. There are ways to many therapies and change processes that concentrate on the so called positive. So, what about acknowledging ALL your feelings be the bliss or piss? Welcoming your demons and angels.

Nietzsche said “Beware lest in casting out your demons you cast out the best thing that is in you”. Joseph Campbell said that “So many psycho-analised patients are like filleted fish” – The best part ( the guts ) is missing … Think about it and perhaps you can harness and integrate an incredibly powerful part of yourself.

Here is a little experiment for you to explore and internalise.

Let’s say you have a negative experience, like emotional pain, hurt, guilt, anger, rage, animosity etc … all of these are somatic and are within your body, the feeling is not a concept, it is a feeling!

First, acknowledge your own feelings (anything else will surely lead to a kind of dis association that is IMO ultimately unhelpful). That is feel it and then … welcome the physical sensation. Notice where you feel this sensation.

Notice I am already re-framing a labelled emotional response to a physical feeling.

Then concentrate on the sensation, notice if the sensation is moving or still, and BREATH and then BREATH in and out through the sensation. Welcoming this physical sensation. This is not a 30 second exercise.

What I want you to do is imagine you are breathing in through the place in your body your are experiencing the sensation. And keep breathing, in and out, through this place (or places) and notice consciously if the sensation is static or dynamic, if the sensation is changing or staying the same.

Do this until the sensation passes or until it is really, very different. Concentrate on the sensation and NOT on your descriptions of the sensation (anger, sadness, jubilation, sickness), this is way to conscious mind stuff. The whole aim here is to be mindful of your body sensations and not your conscious mind description of the emotion.

If the sensation moves to some new emotion (well a sensation really) repeat the process. This really is a very deep meditation and is intended to re-orientate us to a skill we all had access to as children. After all there are no pre-verbal babies or toddlers I know of who are sad, angry, depressed, happy, pissed off, expectant, disappointed, worried, anxious or you name it.

In fact, the naming process of emotions was ‘inflicted’ on all of us by someone else, our parents or care givers who were very well meaning. Time to re-write our own feeling interpretation systems?

 

How to tell if you are an alcoholic

article by Sarah Hepola from http://www.BuzzFeed.com

My twentysomething social life was one long drink special. Margaritas with a crust of salt on the rim, a frosty pint spilling foam, and the always regrettable “Who wants shots?”

I had always assumed my drinking would calm down after I graduated college. Instead, it ramped up. The bars opened their pearly gates to me, and I sank into those velvet banquettes and ripped vinyl couches.

I sometimes wondered if I had a problem. I had a tendency to black out — to forget episodes from a night of drinking, even though I remained surprisingly functional (well, “functional” may not be the word for someone pouring beer on her own head) — and every pamphlet, doctor’s questionnaire, and glossy magazine quiz I took listed blackouts as a risk factor for alcoholism.

The problem with checklists for alcoholism is that they look a lot like, well, being young. Do you ever drink to get drunk? Have you ever gone to work with a hangover? They might as well ask: Have you ever been 25?

Over the following decade, I kept wondering about my drinking, as my bar bills grew steeper — Patron instead of Jose Cuervo — and my taste more refined. I continued to build the case that my drinking was normal, totally normal. See that guy over there? He’s at the bar every night. At least I’m not that bad. I had a good job, I never crashed my car. And yet, I was stuck.

There is a saying among former drunks: “At first drinking is fun, then fun with problems, then just problems.” By my mid-thirties, I had found myself in the “problems” portion of the evening.

I quit drinking at the age of 35. How did I know it was time? I arrived at a preponderance of the evidence. Some people do have a lightning flash of recognition, but for me it was more of a slow dawning. I had to sift through data, gather bits of knowledge. I took health surveys online. I talked to my therapist. I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (the bible of AA) and many alcoholism memoirs: Drinking: A Love Story, and Lit, and Smashed, and A Drinking Life, and The Tender Bar, all of which offer compelling and varied tales of people who put the cap back on the bottle for good. Listening to other people’s stories may have helped me more than anything else. The more I heard other people’s struggles, the more I found words for my own.

The following is a list of aha moments for me. It is not an authoritative list; it’s simply one person’s experience. I can’t stress this enough. What alcoholism looked like for me may not be what it looked like for someone else, and how I define alcoholism may be different from a medical professional (they use the phrase “alcohol use disorder”) or another problem drinker. I really can’t tell anyone else if they have a drinking problem, or if they’re an alcoholic, or if they need to quit. These are complicated questions you must answer on your own. What I can do is show you how I answered these questions for myself.

Does alcohol interfere with your work?

I spent my early career at alternative newsweeklies, where beer was sometimes kept in the fridge, and anyone walking in with sunglasses and a hangover got a high-five. You see this spirit at many companies with lots of employees in their twenties: Get the work done, and we don’t ask questions.

For a long time, I was getting the work done, which is probably why none of my bosses ever confronted me about my drinking. By my thirties, I had developed some red-flag habits. In the evenings, I kept a bottle of wine by my side. I brought my laptop to the bar, and drank pints while I wrote stories. I had an insane workload, and the drinking was partly an attempt to make it tolerable. I told myself I deserved the booze, and the work didn’t suffer. But then it did.

One morning, I came into my Manhattan office at 10:30 a.m., having stayed up drinking till 4, and my deeply beloved assistant editor Gchatted me at my desk: “You might want to chew some gum.” He could still smell the booze on me, because I was still drunk. Another morning, I called in sick because my hangover was so toxic I couldn’t possibly make it without vomiting on myself in a cab or a subway. My friends at work emailed me condolences, and I felt like such a loser.

I stopped being able to write. I had panic attacks when I woke at 5 a.m. If you’ve ever had a high-pressure position, then you know these can also be part of your job description. But the data points start to converge: Drinking WAS interfering with my ability to work. I was not functioning so well anymore, and it’s debatable if I ever really had been.

Do you lie about your drinking?

Like lying about your weight, lying about your drinking is something many people who are not alcoholics do. “How many did you have, honey?” “Oh, two.” They do it for benign reasons (they forgot) and slightly sketchy ones (to avoid an argument, to maintain a perfect image). But how often are you lying? And why?

I engaged in the typical “downscaling of the number” when necessary, but I did other things. In New York, I would go out to dinner with friends, share a bottle of wine or two, and then stop by the bodega on my way home to buy a six-pack of beer. I did this because even after a night of drinking, I needed more. I would sometimes find myself dropping casual lies to the guy who worked at the bodega about how I was just hanging out with a friend at home. Why was I lying to the guy at the bodega?

Because I knew what I was doing was wrong.

I lived alone at the time, and could drink as I wished without anyone’s commentary, but I could feel the watchful eyes of those bodega guys, who probably saw my wine-stained mouth and my droopy eyes. Mostly I tried to get out of there without any interaction at all.

Other humans can be a valuable metric for our own behavior. Are you afraid of getting caught at something? It might be because what you’re doing is wrong.

Have you had regrettable drunken sexual encounters?

Once again, these can be a part of youthful recklessness. But they can also take a chunk from your soul. The first few times I had a drunken one-night stand, I was excited. Even in my thirties, I retained the idea that such a collision was adventurous, a measure of my desirability and bravado. I didn’t regret those encounters, in other words, and if society says I should, who cares?

But the scenarios grew more dangerous, more cringe-inducing. I came out of a blackout in a Paris hotel room in the middle of having sex with a stranger. They were not a measure of my bravado so much as my carelessness, a misplaced need for connection. This is one to watch, whatever your gender. Alcohol and consent can make very complicated bedfellows.

Do you constantly use the phrase “I need a drink”?

I know everyone says it. I’ve seen Facebook. It can be another way of saying “I’ve had a long day.” Or “I’m going to lose my mind.” What I found, though, was that I needed a drink in just about EVERY situation. When I was happy, when I was sad, when I was bored, when I was lonely. When I was sitting on the futon, watching Flavor of Love. (Maybe “drunk” is the only acceptable way to watch Flavor of Love.) I avoided crowded bars where I didn’t have easy access to a cocktail waitress or a friendly bartender quick with the buybacks. No hot spots for me. And when my friends said, “I need a drink,” they often went to the bar for a couple hours and headed home. I left the tab open all night.

When you start drinking, do you find it hard to stop?

For years, I would go to parties swearing I would have one drink, and then I would come out of the party having had eight. What the hell just happened? I was a person of my word, a person of (some) discipline. Well, for one thing, alcohol is a disinhibiting agent that lowers your judgment; everyone finds it hard to keep their promises after drinking. But more crucially: My body responded to alcohol differently than other people.

I have friends who pass out after two drinks. Friends who have a glass of wine, and then say they are done. (“Done”? What is “done”?) I never understood that. Alcohol was like cocaine to me, probably one reason I never bothered to try cocaine. Booze lit a match inside me; I was often up all night.

The first time I read the phrase “the phenomenon of craving” was in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As soon as I saw the words, I knew exactly what they described, a sensation I had experienced for years. When I drank, I needed more. If I was drinking, and someone interrupted the drinking — say, the alcohol ran out at the party, or we had to change locations — I experienced the itchy dislocation I imagine daily smokers get when they need a fix. I was the person at your party scouring your liquor cabinet after the keg had floated. I was the person who hammered the wine cork into the wine bottle because nobody had a corkscrew.

“I can’t stop” is one of the key distinctions between a “drinking problem” and “alcoholism,” to my mind. Other people have their definitions, but this is mine. When you have a “drinking problem,” you have some hope of walking it back, of moderating the behavior. With alcoholism, you are done. You cannot moderate, because one drink will never be enough. That’s why your best line of defense is to never start drinking again — which is exactly what no drinker ever wants to hear.

Are you often coming up with new ways to control your drinking?

A short list of things I have done in order to manage my own drinking: I stopped drinking brown liquor; I drank only on weekends; I stopped drinking red wine and only drank white; I never drank before 5 p.m.; I drank a glass of water between every cocktail; I stopped taking shots. None of this worked. Or, rather, it worked for a week, or a year, and then I was back in the muck again.

One night, desperate for someone to save me, I called a woman who had some experience with this stuff. “But I just don’t KNOW if I’m an alcoholic,” I said to her. There was no blood test. No home kit. It was on me.

She told me to try some controlled drinking. I liked the sound of that. The “controlled drinking” experiment — for six months, you drink between one and three drinks, no excuses — is actually a marvelously practical way to test to see if you have a problem. I failed in three days, tried it again and failed it in a week. Then I stopped taking the test. Drinking only two or three beers a night felt like holding my breath underwater. I hated it. I needed more. I didn’t quit immediately after that. I still had a year of mourning and clinging to do. But it nudged me further toward defeat. It was becoming clear I couldn’t lick this thing by myself.

What is your family history?

There is a common saying in addiction literature: “Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.” My heritage is a mix of two strong drinking cultures, Irish and Finnish. (If you don’t know whether your genetic heritage tilts toward boozehoundery, take a look at this list of the world’s heaviest-drinking countries, and my apologies to those from Eastern Europe.) My parents never drank much when I was a kid, but my family trees have quite a few empty bottles underneath them. My genetic predisposition to drinking was great for me at first. I was the “girl who could hold her liquor” (though from 1 a.m. onward, I did have a tendency to spill it).

Ultimately, this was a target on my forehead. “The girl who can hold her liquor” and “the guy who parties the hardest” have a way of finding their way to metal fold-out chairs in fluorescent rooms.

Have friends confronted you about your drinking?

This was a big one for me. Until my friends started talking to me about my drinking, I had convinced myself we were all basically the same. This is how we all drink, right? Everyone thinks I’m funny when I’m drunk, right? No and no. I was lucky that instead of just cutting me off, like many people might have, a couple of my friends sat me down and told me they were worried about me. That was the phrase my friends often used: worried about you. They didn’t count my drinks, which would have incited me to argue. They didn’t even say, “You drink too much.” They said, “I’m scared something’s going to happen to you” and “I care about you.” At first, I was so angry. What the hell? They drank too. But they didn’t drink like I did. I wasn’t holding it together, and they did me the favor of telling me in gentle, loving, and honest ways.

Do you black out?

For decades, the medical community thought that blackouts were a sign you were headed straight into alcoholism. More recent research has suggested the link isn’t so direct. In a 2002 study at Duke, more than half of the drinkers had experienced a blackout. They are a common fixture in a college drinking environment defined by pregaming, shot contests, and drinking on an empty stomach (all risk factors for blackout).

So having one blackout, or two blackouts, does not necessarily indicate a problem. But continuing to have blackouts — having them over the years, or having them despite your efforts not to have them — suggests an inability to moderate, which is the crux of the whole issue. It suggests that you continue to put yourself in harm’s way, despite pretty shocking consequences. (It is incredibly freaky to have a blackout, and dangerous.) It suggests that you are consistently drinking yourself to a risky level of intoxication. Katy Perry songs are all fine and good, but let’s be clear on something: Blackouts are not funny, and they are not OK.

Are you spending an inordinate amount of time wondering if you have a drinking problem?

It’s healthy to occasionally question your consumption. But an obsession on the subject suggests less ambivalence and more denial. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay up reading everything on the internet about drinking. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay in their head for entire Sunday afternoons reading theories about addiction.

If you are that person, what can I tell you? Probably nothing you don’t already know.
I told a friend I was writing this story and asked what she would have wanted to hear, back when she was trying to quit. “Oh, I didn’t ask anybody if I had a drinking problem,” she said. “I knew I did.”

By the end, I knew too. I just wanted a different answer. I wanted the answer to be “Here is this miracle pill.” Or “Hey, drink this raw vitamin juice.” Anything, ANYTHING but “stop drinking.” If you are a drinker, you want to drink. I didn’t need another survey. I didn’t need another medical professional. What I needed was to hear from someone on the other side who could assure me that life wouldn’t be over.

So let me assure you now. The answer is: Not even close.

Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, came out June 23 from Grand Central. She is the personal essays editor at Salon.

One year sober

lotus

Thank you to this swan for sharing below.

I woke up feeling slightly down and a bit confused about how to feel today. “Yes yes, it’s a positive” my critical voice said “but if you were normal you wouldn’t have to celebrate it at all”. I don’t have my children with me this weekend and there is always more room for that voice without the accompanying constant chatter of five year old girls to drown it out. Reading congratulatory messages this morning started a subtle shift in my thinking: perhaps the last year *was* an achievement to be celebrated? I’m certainly much happier now than I was before stopping drinking. I’m also over 3 stone lighter, and feeling for the first time as though permanent and significant improvements to my health are achievable. Whilst drinking I just felt constantly mired in an inability to be consistent about anything, that healthy days were just blips in between bad days.

I’m still midway through divorcing my incredibly difficult/controlling/abusive husband, but know that the process would have been much much worse whilst nursing occasional hangovers, peering through my fingers consumed with shame about texts or posts I’d written on Facebook which seemed hilarious at the time.

I’m also now trying to confront what I think the problematic relationship with alcohol is indicative in my life on a larger level – as Tommy Rosen puts it, addiction is: the compulsion to look away from our life, even when we know it is destructive. I know on a more macro level I have been choosing to do this for decades, whether it be through relationships, alcohol, recreational drugs, excessive internet use, procrastination. This is the biggie I need to face now, and not to shy away from. I feel both profoundly grateful that I’ve had this realisation for the chance it gives me for future peace, yet at the same time overwhelmed to face it.

Vacation time

so glad to find this blog xxx

ainsobriety

hi friends!

I am on vacation. Visiting my parents and mother in law. And my sister and her family.

My beautiful nephew was baptized this past weekend and I have the honour of being his godmother. He is an absolute angel. I wish he lived closer. I wish his whole family was at least in the same country. But no, they are in England and I’m in northern canada.

It has been a good trip. We have spent time as a family, visited old friends, I did a yoga workshop and now we have a few more days to find fun and visit.

I was worried about the trip. My mother is hard to get along with. She is my biggest trigger by far. And trigger me she did. But this visit I had an ally. My sister and I have found a new friendship that we lacked growing up…

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Nostalgia = old pain

 

Thank you to Fiona swan for the article at the end and for letting me know that ”Nostalgia comes from Greek for”old pain”. Do you really want that back??? ”

sand

Hello, hope all good with you. Went to the beach directly after work tonight. I find that it breaks up the transition from getting in and settling in, if that makes sense; stops the wired feeling from being quite as bad. While walking along the sand I realised that this holiday coming up will be my first ever abroad where I don’t drink every day, from early afternoon onwards, well into the night.

The lure of outside drinking, restaurant drinking, beach drinking, pool drinking,drinking while barbecuing, drinking while watching the sun go down, drinking with friends around a table in the dark with just a candle flickering, drinking after a long day sight seeing, drinking while sight seeing, drinking on a boat…oh my.

No idea why the full extremity of doing all those things with a drink on board has hit me this evening, but it did. I am not going to lie and say that when my hub talks about getting a bottle of Mythos and sitting with it on our balcony it doesn’t make me feel a massive swish of nostalgia. It really does.

I am working really hard at the moment to deal with the nostalgia and the false recall really of what it was actually like. The hangover, the waiting to drink, the thirst and headaches, the money (very much so), the poorly tum and shattered looking face in the mirror, the shaking hands, the dumb things that are said and done.

We do have a tendency to remember the good bits and forget the real reason why we decided drinking is not a good idea. Going on holiday abroad will be my biggest test to date and with this in mind I am being especially vigilant in my thinking processes and remembering that even at two years, I am still as vulnerable as anyone else. Addiction sets us traps and it doesn’t matter how far into recovery we are, we are still at risk.

 

Danger of Nostalgia in Recovery

Benefits and Dangers of Memories

Memories of the past can be like old friends. This is why people like to keep photographs from the childhood and listen to the same music they enjoyed during their school years. Such memories can remind the individual of a time when life felt easier and when deceased loved ones were still alive. Life would be far less satisfying without these memories but if people overindulge in nostalgia it can be detrimental to them. If people are recovering from an addiction but they are nostalgic for those days when they were still engaged in substance abuse, it may be a warning that they are about to relapse. It can also occur that people are so focused on the past that they fail to appreciate what they have in the present.

Nostalgia Defined

Nostalgia can be defined as wistful or excessively sentimental, sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition – it is a type of emotion. It usually refers to some idealized form of the past that never really existed. When people are feeling nostalgic they will only tend to remember the good things and forget about the bad. So if an individual is feeling nostalgic for their childhood it will seem as if every day was perfect – even though that is highly unlikely to have been the case. Occasional feelings of nostalgia are normal, but if people are constantly romanticizing about the past it can prevent them from enjoying their current life. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Herb Cain once referred to nostalgia as a memory with the pain removed.

Difference Between Nostalgia and Homesickness

The words nostalgia and homesickness can sometimes be confused. This is hardly surprising as nostalgia comes from a Latin word that means homecoming. In fact originally nostalgia was used to describe a sickness that a person experiences when they are not in their native land. In modern usage the word nostalgia is mostly used to describe a yearning for the past – a place that the individual can never return to. Homesickness differs from this because the individual will usually have the option to go home.

Causes of Nostalgia

There can be a number of reasons for why people become nostalgic about the past:

* It can be a positive experience because the person is reminded of good things that happened to them in the past. It is perfectly normal to occasionally dwell on these nice memories.
* Hearing old songs or meeting old friends can trigger this emotion. School reunions are special social occasions where nostalgia is encouraged.
* Fear of death can mean that the individual feels safer looking to the past rather than thinking about the future.
* These memories may play an important role in the development of identity. The back story allows people to make sense of their current life.
* It can be an important element of social bonding. A group of friends can share their memories of the past and this reminds them of their closeness.
* If people are fearful about the future they are more likely to look upon the past as a safer place. For example, when there is a great deal of financial or social insecurity people tend to become more focused on the past.
* People experience dissatisfaction with their current life.
* When people are dealing with a great deal of stress they can yearn for a time when things seemed to be simpler.
* Bereavement can mean that the individual may yearn from a time when their loved ones were still alive.
* If people have low self esteem they may think back to a time when they seemed to be more in control of their life.

Dangers of Nostalgia

Nostalgia can be described as a disorder of the imagination where the mind is dwelling on past memories while losing interest in the present. The dangers associated with nostalgia include:

* It can become an emotional disorder that negatively impacts the individual’s life. The person dealing with this emotion may find it difficult to appreciate anything in their current life.
* Nostalgia may prevent the individual from making the most of their current circumstances. They will not have the motivation to work towards goals and get things done.
* It can lead to symptoms such as insomnia and heart palpitations. It can also lead to symptoms of depression.
* It may mean that the individual suffers from a great deal of anxiety and feelings of powerlessness.
* It can lead to a loss of interest in food and the person may become unwilling to take care of their physical health.
* It may lead to thoughts of suicide.

Nostalgia in Recovery

Nostalgia can be dangerous for people who are recovering from an addiction. This is particularly true if the individual is constantly thinking about the period of their life when they were using alcohol or drugs. This kind of nostalgia is sometimes referred to as romancing the drink or drug. When people first become sober they will have no problem remembering how bad they felt in the midst of addiction. Over time the memory of the pain can fade, and the individual can start to remember times when alcohol or drugs seemed to be their friend. If the individual allows such nostalgia to continue it may lead them to once again return to alcohol or drug abuse.

How to Escape Excessive Nostalgia

The actress Jeanne Moreau made an interesting claim that can help put nostalgia into perspective:

> My life is very exciting now. Nostalgia for what? It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind and see the steps. That’s where I was. We’re here right now. Tomorrow, we’ll be someplace else. So why nostalgia?

Occasionally thinking about the past is not a bad thing, and it may even be necessary for mental health. It is only when people are overly nostalgic that it becomes problematic. It is vital that those who are recovering from an addiction, but are romanticizing that period of their life, take action to limit this thinking. People can escape excessive nostalgia by:

* If people are working hard to build a good life now they will be less likely to dwell too much on the past. This means that it is important to have goals in life and to work towards these.
* If a person in recovery is remembering the good times of drinking or drug using they need to tackle these memories head on. They need to remember how they really felt during the midst of addiction and why this drove them to yearn for escape.
* It is understandable that as people get older they prefer to enjoy music, movies, and other forms of entertainment from previous decades, but it can also be a good idea to stay interested in what is popular now.
* There is no time in history that was ever perfect. It is good that people remind themselves of this and avoid glorifying the past excessively.
* People are never too old to try new things and experiment. Such an open minded and adventurous attitude will help to keep the individual feeling young.
* If the individual is dealing with excessive stress in their life they will need to develop tools for dealing with this. Relaxation techniques can be a great help with this.
* If people are struggling to cope with bereavement they might benefit from some type of counseling.
* Many people who have a history of addictive behavior will have low self esteem and this can make them more prone to nostalgia. They can increase their own self worth by setting small goals and achieving these – as their confidence grows they will be able to achieve more and more.

http://alcoholrehab.com/addiction-recovery/danger-of-nostalgia-in-recovery/

 

Spiritual Recovery – Walking a Path of Reverence

Spiritual Recovery – Walking a Path of Reverence

Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1

Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1

Read more about Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC, SAP, NCRC1

When it comes to that moment of surrender, that moment when the world stops turning and time stands still and all that we know is something has to change – we have touched a deep spiritual connection that is hard to define and hard to explain.

Spiritual recovery isn’t for everyone.  But even the most hardened atheist would agree that to achieve a certain quality in ones recovery – means engaging in a spiritual process.  Many will say that the Christian rituals are the only way to go.  But as with many faiths, there are many paths.

                                                       Why a spiritual path?

Addiction does something to our core – it eats away like woodworms to an ancient piece of furniture – snaking through the warp and weave until nothing is left but a hollowed out frame.

Addiction robs us of dignity, of self respect, of self confidence and of our sense of who we are and what our purpose is. It steals like a thief in a crowded market place – while Using Christian Principles for Addiction Recoverywe are being dazzled by the distraction of the drugs or alcohol or both, it is reaching into our bag of life and taking everything we rely on to function.

One of the remedies that is emphasized by experts, long term recovering addicts, scientists, and treatment centers is to re-connect to that place or time in our life before it all went wrong.  Connecting to the knowledge of that space and bringing it forward to our current situation.  And then moving on to our future lives.

For some it is faith. For some it is a belief. Or a practice:

  • Light a candle.
  • Light a stick of incense.
  • Place a fresh cut flower in a vase with reverence.
  • Kneel in the sanctum of silence in a church and acknowledge all the gifts received.
  • Walk in nature and smell the green, breathe deep the whirring air left by honey bees or a hummingbird.
  • Sit by a river or the ocean and listen to the wisdom imparted by the water.
  • Touch your heart by touching kindness and offering it to others.
  • Step into this moment with all the grace that sobriety gives us.

Spiritual recovery engages us at the level of the divine. One merely looks out to the edge of the universe and feels the wonder of our place within it. Or perhaps, a single pebble by a brook holds the secret of millennia. That cloud hovering silently against a brilliant blue sky that catches your attention. Who is to say that these moments don’t hold a whisper to Grace?

In part it is taking a moment to be outside of ourselves; in part it is exercising the muscle of our awareness.  Stopping our busy-ness of days and the endless chatter of our internal dialogue to take a few moments to be.  Even in the noise of a major city there is quiet.

We can read a book.  We can travel to a quiet retreat.  We can offer ourselves a weekend away to learn, and grow.  We can create a space within our home that resonates with reverence.  We can wash dishes in prayer. Or pull weeds with love. Even being stuck in traffic is an opportunity to engage iPrayer and Meditation Are Useful Practiced in Recoveryn spiritual practice – blessing everyone in all the other cars who are similarly frustrated that they are going nowhere in a line of endless cars.

We go to meetings and we find fellowship.  Connecting with others, no matter who they are, is a spiritual act.   We trudge a road together that brings us to a happy destiny – one of personal renewal and growth.  We change.  It is inevitable to change when the drugs and the alcohol are discontinued, but the meaningful change that brings long lasting happiness requires work of a different kind.  It requires that we surrender to the fight of our suffering, and we embrace the compassion and love of ourselves.

There may be resistance, there may be struggle; but setting an intention toward growth, making ourselves better, and a willingness to release our preconceived notions of what spirituality is all about can actually help to end the pain of struggle and the frustration of resistance.

Challenge yourself.  Stretch your mindset.  Think outside of the box that you have created for yourself. 

We are infinitely capable and creative beings – we have begun to reach the edges of our universe.  Now it is time to reach the edges of our inner dimensions that know no end.

# # # # # #

SIDE BAR: 

Resources for Spiritual Recovery:

Jon Kabat-Zinn “Wherever You Go, There You Are.” Hyperion Publishers.

Thich Nhat Hanh “The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation.” Beacon Press

Karen Armstrong “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” Knopf publishers.

Brian D. McLaren “Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in Twelve Simple Words” HarperOne Press

Jack Kornfield “A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating a Path Through Difficult Times” Sounds True

 Places to Retreat:

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How a year of sobriety feels

Thank you for this wonderful update from a swan.

cygnet to swan

Last night’s yoga class was very emotional for me, I think the universe is really trying to remind me that gratitude is the corner stone of my sobriety. The whole of last night’s practice was based on gratitude and compassion, by doing a lot of heart opening poses and spending much of the time looking inwards…I felt very moved by it and in savasana I just felt tears streaming from my eyes. I felt a lightness as I finished the class and then when I got home, I made the effort to sit and listen to day 2 of the meditation experience with Oprah and Deepak rather than lay in bed (where I would fall asleep!) They are really wonderful deep meditations and are focused on grace through gratitude. I feel a deep serenity within me at the moment, it’s like nothing can touch me if I don’t want it too…life feels calm and I feel in control. It’s so amazing as I know work is crazy busy and we are going on holiday next week, something that would of had me spinning in circles a year ago. I’m feeling gratitude in the bucket load at the moment, one of the things that I have learnt is that by opening myself up to what is good, I can accept more and more. It really is working. Anyway, enough of my waffling! Today I am going for a spa day…first time. It’s not a super posh place, but it will be a chance to relax for a few hours…I have a back massage booked too 😊 then Friday I have booked a reflexology facial with a lovely lady from my yoga class…I am using my upcoming birthday as an excuse for all these indulgences…although I know how good it feels so I’m sure I will continue them in the future! Take care all and please hold tight if you are struggling at all…believe me when I say, reading back through this post…I would never have believed that I would be this person from how I felt a year ago. It is possible to live an amazing life free from alcohol and a life discovering what truly makes you happy from the inside out. Xxxx

Four Years of Sobriety School and the Lessons Continue

Love reading about people who are ahead of me; it gives me such inspiration – thank you and huge congrats xxx

That Snarky Vegan Girl

126,230,400 seconds
2,103,840 minutes
35,064 hours
1460 days

4 years

That is how long I have been sober today (well yesterday). Wow.

July 11, 2015 marks four years of sobriety. I am proud of this day, as becoming sober quite possibly saved my life, and certainly saved me from more humiliation and a heck of a lot of hangovers!

What have I learned in the last year of sobriety?

1. Relationships bring out my character defects, magnified! However, this has forced me to look at them, and work through them….and accept them.

2. Judgement is poisonous.  Judgment of others, and judgement of myself.

3. Life happens, no matter what. There is no way around that. And I have learned this year that acceptance is the key to getting through life and it’s moments (good or bad) with grace, ease, and service.

4. I have learned that being of service extends beyond…

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something wonderful in recognising what I now know

 

swanpic

Gratitude to this swan for sharing her update.

 

So I’ve had an upsetting conversation with my 14 year old son this morning who chose the moment to say “well you were an alcoholic weren’t you?”
I know AA and for a lot of people they find this terminology fine and I’m not sure where or if there is a line drawn. However I don’t like labels this was my response in s message for my husband, two sons and my daughter …

As its been brought to my attention that not everyone is on the same page as me regarding my quitting the booze I want to discuss it with you. It’s fairly long but important to me so bare with me please.

Over the past 20 years on and off I have drunk alcohol. The quantity has increased as is the way of an addictive substance. What can start out as an odd glass can lead to more if it is what you are using as your crutch. People all over the world have different crutches to get through life especially at difficult times, some healthy, some can be unhealthy and often addictive, some legal and some not.

If you’re having a stressful day and go home to a tub of ice cream however it is not frowned upon despite sugar being more addictive than cocaine and a major killer. You are addicted to sugar, be it in your cola, chocolates, donuts or sweets you are not a sugarhollic. To give it up you would find the first week very tricky you would have headaches and feel crap.

If you light a cigarette as long as it’s outside you can smoke as many as you like you are not classed a nicotinehollic you are addicted to nicotine and people accept it. Again to give this addictive substance up is tricky and again there are side effects.

These are all legal addictive substances. Alcohol is another one. Over time if you take it regularly enough during stressful periods your body craves more of it.. Just like sugar and nicotine .. One is not enough… You need more of the substance to ease the craving.. One chocolate bar, one fag would not be enough if you were addicted to the substance.

Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it any less harmful. The government don’t want to ban or stop people from using it as they get too much money from these industries but they are no less addictive than heroine or cocaine some just suck you in faster. Why can some people have one glass of wine not more ? It’s the same as a person who can have one piece of chocolate or one cigarette .. The addictive substance hasn’t taken a full hold as they don’t have it regularly enough or use more than one crutch but it would if they did. Like coke and energy drinks once you’re sucked in it gets harder to have a day or two without it and you will get a headache and need to get it out of your system. The more you have the harder it gets.

Back to me. If I was to have a glass of wine now .. One glass would be enough but if I continued to have a glass of wine each day I would need more. I stopped because I was having a bottle of wine most days .. More if we had a party or with friends at weekends. I knew the stuff was going to grab me further and further and if I didn’t break the habit I would get worse and worse and not be able to work or function. I have friends who have gone that far and it’s sad to see what this addictive substance can do but I was lucky I recognised it and after a few attempts I moved it out of my system. It took about 7 days to get rid of it now it’s just the habit not the substance of going on holiday and to parties and not drinking that I’m learning to crack but I can honestly say I’m glad I don’t drink anymore. It makes me sad to see people using this substance but everybody has to learn themselves and those who have healthy crutches like exercise, sport may never need to find an alternative addictive crutch.

I hope this all makes sense and I wanted to say it how I feel as I don’t like labels and I certainly don’t feel like I’ve done anything short of something wonderful in recognising what I now know 😘😘

33 good deeds for 33 years

Many congrats to this lady on two years plus xxx

real mama morgan

In May, I turned 33.  I also celebrated 2 years of sobriety.  To mark the occasions, I made a list of 33 good deeds that I wanted to complete before my 34th birthday.

THE LIST

dates in parentheses indicate when completed

  1. make 5 sack lunches to give to homeless people
  2. pay it forward at the drive-thru
  3. let someone go ahead of me in line (5.31)
  4. pick up trash on the side of the road
  5. bake cookies for a neighbor
  6. volunteer at a community meal program
  7. visit a nursing home
  8. leave flowers on a stranger’s doorstep
  9. donate clothes/home goods to a charity thrift store (6.25)
  10. take a meal to new parents
  11. take a meal to a grieving family
  12. donate blood
  13. give a thank you note to a stranger
  14. renew my first aid/CPR certification
  15. submit a VGAL (volunteer guardian ad litem) application
  16. participate in Christmas in July **Habitat for Humanity Snohomish County…

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Why Freddy Flintoff put his drinking days behind him

Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff  Photo: Getty Images

His public image as a boisterous, beer swilling one of the lads was sealed in the public mind with his exuberant Ashes victory celebrations and a visit to No 10 that saw him put his feet up on the Cabinet table.

But Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff has revealed his more thoughtful, private side in a revealing appearance on Desert Island Discs, in which he talks about his struggle with depression, his decision to quit drinking and his devotion to family life.

The former England cricket captain and now star of TV panel shows such as A League of their Own, told Kirsty Young, the programme’s presenter, that he turned his back on the all-night drinking bouts for which he became famous after making a documentary about depression in sport, in 2012.

He said: “I’m prone to depression. Drinking doesn’t help one bit. I don’t touch it now.”


Rachael Wools and Andrew Flintoff

Flintoff said he realised his drinking had started to become a problem after a run of poor form and defeats that saw him sacked as England vice-captain in 2007 then getting drunk and into difficulties after taking a pedal boat out to sea after a World Cup defeat in St Lucia.

“It’s not so much the drinking as the reason why you’re drinking that is the problem. When you’re drinking because you’re trying to get away from things you’ve got to look at it. That’s not right,” he said. “My heart goes out to anyone out there who is struggling now.”

Speaking of his upbringing in Lancashire Flintoff, who chose Elvis Presley’s I Just Can’t Help Believing and Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon among his desert island records, said he never played cricket at his state school in Preston, but learnt it from his father, a British Aerospace production line worker.


Andrew Flintoff holds the Ashes trophy after England defeated Australia on the fourth day of the fifth and final Ashes cricket Test match

“Cricket was seen as the posh sport,” he said, adding that he would never have dreamt of walking back home through his local council estates in his cricket whites.

Now Flintoff says his greatest joy is being at home with his wife and their three children – even if they ignore him when he’s trying to teach them cricket.

 

10 Thinking Errors That Will Crush Your Mental Strength

Source: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Mental strength requires a three-pronged approach—managing our thoughts, regulating our emotions, and behaving productively despite our circumstances.

While all three areas can be a struggle, it’s often our thoughts that make it most difficult to be mentally strong.

As we go about our daily routines, our internal monologue narrates our experience. Our self-talk guides our behavior and influences the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world in general.

Quite often, however, our conscious thoughts aren’t realistic; they’re irrational and inaccurate. Believing our irrational thoughts can lead to problems including communication issues, relationship problems, and unhealthy decisions.

Whether you’re striving to reach personal or professional goals, the key to success often starts with recognizing and replacing inaccurate thoughts. The most common thinking errors can be divided into these 10 categories, which are adapted from David Burns’s book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (link is external).

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
Sometimes we see things as being black or white: Perhaps you have two categories of coworkers in your mind—the good ones and the bad ones. Or maybe you look at each project as either a success or a failure. Recognize the shades of gray, rather than putting things in terms of all good or all bad.

2. Overgeneralizing
It’s easy to take one particular event and generalize it to the rest of our life. If you failed to close one deal, you may decide, “I’m bad at closing deals.” Or if you are treated poorly by one family member, you might think, “Everyone in my family is rude.” Take notice of times when an incident may apply to only one specific situation, instead of all other areas of life.

3. Filtering Out the Positive
If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. Maybe we declare we had a bad day, despite the positive events that occurred. Or maybe we look back at our performance and declare it was terrible because we made a single mistake. Filtering out the positive can prevent you from establishing a realistic outlook on a situation. Develop a balanced outlook by noticing both the positive and the negative.

4. Mind-Reading
We can never be sure what someone else is thinking. Yet, everyone occasionally assumes they know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. Thinking things like, “He must have thought I was stupid at the meeting,” makes inferences that aren’t necessarily based on reality. Remind yourself that you may not be making accurate guesses about other people’s perceptions.

5. Catastrophizing
Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. If you fall short on meeting your financial goals one month you may think, “I’m going to end up bankrupt,” or “I’ll never have enough money to retire,” even though there’s no evidence that the situation is nearly that dire. It can be easy to get swept up into catastrophizing a situation once your thoughts become negative. When you begin predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself that there are many other potential outcomes.

6. Emotional Reasoning
Our emotions aren’t always based on reality but we often assume those feelings are rational. If you’re worried about making a career change, you might assume, “If I’m this scared about it, I just shouldn’t change jobs.” Or, you may be tempted to assume, “If I feel like a loser, I must be a loser.” It’s essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren’t always based on the facts.

7. Labeling
Labeling involves putting a name to something. Instead of thinking, “He made a mistake,” you might label your neighbor as “an idiot.” Labeling people and experiences places them into categories that are often based on isolated incidents. Notice when you try to categorize things and work to avoid placing mental labels on everything.

8. Fortune-telling
Although none of us knows what will happen in the future, we sometimes like to try our hand at fortune-telling. We think things like, “I’m going to embarrass myself tomorrow,” or “If I go on a diet, I’ll probably just gain weight.” These types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies if you’re not careful. When you’re predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself of all the other possible outcomes.

9. Personalization
As much as we’d like to say we don’t think the world revolves around us, it’s easy to personalize everything. If a friend doesn’t call back, you may assume, “She must be mad at me,” or if a co-worker is grumpy, you might conclude, “He doesn’t like me.” When you catch yourself personalizing situations, take time to point out other possible factors that may be influencing the circumstances.

10. Unreal Ideal
Making unfair comparisons about ourselves and other people can ruin our motivation. Looking at someone who has achieved much success and thinking, “I should have been able to do that,” isn’t helpful, especially if that person had some lucky breaks or competitive advantages along the way. Rather than measuring your life against someone else’s, commit to focusing on your own path to success.

Fixing Thinking Errors
Once you recognize your thinking errors, you can begin trying to challenge those thoughts. Look for exceptions to the rule and gather evidence that your thoughts aren’t 100% true. Then, you can begin replacing them with more realistic thoughts.

The goal doesn’t need to be to replace negative thoughts with overly idealistic or positive ones. Instead, replace them with realistic thoughts. Changing the way you think takes a lot of effort initially, but with practice, you’ll notice big changes—not just in the way you think, but also in the way you feel and behave. You can make peace with the past, look at the present differently, and think about the future in a way that will support your chances of reaching your goals.

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and an internationally recognized expert on mental strength. Her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (link is external), is filled with strategies and exercises to help you avoid those common pitfalls that can prevent you from reaching your full potential. Watch the video trailer below to learn about her personal story behind the book.

Visit my website (link is external), like me on Facebook (link is external), and follow me on Twitter (link is external)@AmyMorinLCSW (link is external)

Mother Who Drank Through Pregnancy Speaks About Her Journey to Sobriety

thank you for sharing this x

‘I was always drunk for the school pickup’: Alcoholic mother-of-three who drank through pregnancy and abused her family speaks about her journey to sobriety

  • Sarah Colwell, 50, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism
  • The Cambridge charity worker admits to drinking while pregnant
  • She also abused her police officer husband and family
  • Finally kicked the habit after humiliating night out with family
  • She now says that her relationship with her family is better than any drug

Sober Family support: Sarah Colwell, a 50-year-old charity worker from Cambridge and mother-of-three, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism (pictured with her daughter Maisie)

Sarah Colwell, a 50-year-old charity worker from Cambridge and mother-of-three, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism.

Her addiction to drink saw her physically abuse her loving police officer husband Paul, 58, and emotionally abuse her first daughter Maisie, 25. She even admits to…

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Day 730: Two Years Today

huge congrats, I am following you x

Off-Dry

Written on day 730 but not posted till day 740 cause, well, a girl gets busy.

I put aside the classy, glamorous, life-and-ambition-and-joy-sucking white wine two years ago today. Crazy, right? I don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about my drinking days as I used to, but with this date approaching I have been thinking of what those early days of sobriety were like–all that I didn’t, couldn’t know because I’d never been there before. If Today Me could have given Sober Newbie Me a glimpse into the future, here are some of the things I would have told myself:

  • You think right now that being sober is a condition you’ll learn to tolerate–that you’ll make your peace with it as a safer but also somehow lesser way to live. But you’re going to end up loving it. Seriously. It will turn out that clarity is your ideal and happiest state of…

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Anne Lamott – 29 years sober

anne lamott

 

https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott?fref=photo

On July 7, 1986, 29 years ago, I woke up sick, shamed, hungover, and in deep animal confusion. I woke up this way most mornings. Why couldn’t I stop after 6 or 7 drinks? Why didn’t I have an “off” switch when I had that first drink every day?

Well, “Why?” is not a useful question.

I thought about having a cool refreshing beer, just to get all the flies going in one direction.

I was 32, with three published books, and the huge local love of my family and life-long friends. I was loved out of all sense of proportion. I gave talks and readings that hundreds of people came to. I had won a Guggenheim Fellowship, although, like many fabulous writers, I was drunk as a skunk every day. I was penniless and bulimic, but adorable, and cherished.

But there was one tiny problem. I was dying. Oh, also, my soul was rotted out from mental illness and physical abuse. My insides felt like Swiss cheese, until I had that first cool, refreshing drink.

So, not ideal. The elevator was going. It ONLY goes down; until you finally get off. As a clean, sober junkie told me weeks later, “At the end, I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.”

And against all odds, I picked up the 200 pound phone, and called the same sober alkie that my older brother had called two years earlier, when he had hit his coked-out bottom. The man, a Jack Lemmon type, said, “I will come get you at 11:30. Take a shower, and try not to drink till then. The shower is optional.”

I didn’t; when all else fails, follow Instructions. I couldn’t imagine there was a way out of all that sickness and self-will, all those lies and secrets, but God always makes a way out of No Way.

So I showed up. Before I turned on Woody Allen, he said that 80% of life is just showing up. And I did. There were all these other women who had what I had, who’d thought what I’d thought, who’d done what I’d done, who had betrayed their families and deepest values, who sat with me that day, and said “Guess what? Me, too! I have that too. Let me get you a glass of water.” Those are the words of salvation: Gess what? Me, too.”

Then I blinked, and today is my 29th recovery birthday. I hope someday it will be yours, too, or at least your 1st. Don’t give up on yourself. In recovery, we never EVER give up on anyone, no matter what it looks like, no matter how long it takes.

Because Grace bats last. That spiritual WD-40, those water wings, that second wind–it bats last. That is my promise to you.

Happy birthday to me, and maybe to you. As my beloved ee Cummings wrote, “(I who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birthday of life and love and wings.)”

Don’t. Give. Up. Because guess what? Me too.

How Alcohol Impacts Your Hormones

Extracted from:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20588/boozy-weekend-got-you-down-heres-a-1-day-hormonal-reset.html

Women retain fluids longer than men, and metabolize the chemicals in alcohol at a slower rate. That means that in general, the impact of alcohol is much stronger on women.

At the same time, alcohol forces the liver to dip into your store of antioxidants and vitamin C to break it down — leaving you vitamin and mineral deficient. It’s also dehydrating, and you lose hormone-balancing magnesium and B vitamins.

Plus, alcohol raises your estrogen levels, which can worsen symptoms of estrogen-dominant health issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, fibroids and endometriosis.

And although we tend to reach for a drink when we want to feel happy or sexy, alcohol is actually a depressant — it drains the adrenals and causes you to feel tired and down.

Lastly, alcohol disrupts your blood sugar function. And when we drink, we also tend to make unhealthy food choices, which further exacerbates the problem.

 

Detox suggested in the article:


First thing in the morning:

  • Take a B vitamin complex, and have a glass of warm water with lemon to flush your liver.
  • Drink a 16 oz glass of my favorite liver support juice. Combine a handful of spinach, one carrot, four stalks of celery, half a cucumber, half a bunch of cilantro, one-third a bunch of parsley, half a lemon with rind and half a green apple in a blender or juicer.
  • Enjoy a breakfast of two poached eggs, a half cup of quinoa, half an avocado and two tablespoons of sauerkraut.

Middle of the day:

  • Eat a big lunch — brown rice, miso glazed salmon and kale or bok choy in soy sauce — to replenish the micronutrients you have lost and balance sodium levels.
  • Drink coconut water to replenish your electrolytes, and take a magnesium and calcium supplement.
  • Step out into the sun for 15 minutes, with no sunscreen, to boost lost vitamin D3 stores.

Evening:

  • Drink bone broth or have chicken soup to soothe the inflammation from the booze.
  • Do yoga twists. These moves will help to detoxify your internal organs and prevent a backup of estrogen.
  • Head to bed early to detoxify your brain’s immune system.

Remember: Once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that work for you.

 

grow your own sobriety

 

strawberries

 

So a bit of a strawberry fest yesterday. My mum and hub’s birthdays are on the same day and coming up soon, so I am going to attempt a cake with some of the fruit. I am a useless baker, as I am too slapdash with quantities, but will try harder. Sometimes it is a case of just trying harder. The fruit is taking up a whole freezer box and the sight of all those little red globes of joy makes me feel a sense of delight. There is nothing quite like growing your own food….except growing your own sobriety maybe.

Feeling middle aged has been a feature this week. I have been feeling tired and stressed by being over tired, and resentful of the set up in my life which makes me over tired, but also stuck and not sure how to proceed. I feel like I am on the edge of a breakthrough but need to THINK harder to get there. I guess it is partly a case of asking myself the right questions.

Questions can be very under rated. For instance I had to ask hubs yesterday when we were in the suit shop, as he has no suit and needs one, darling why are you taking off your trousers in the middle of the shop floor? Bearing in mind he is six five, on the large side, tattooed and bald. Go in the changing room. He paused mid squat and said, oh yeah, pulled his kegs back up and found a private booth. Then he said later, I’ve set the Sky to record two films tonight and I said, oh what are they, and he said, I don’t know. Later that afternoon, we both slept on our separate sofas, sitting upright. Like I say, middle aged.

100 Things That Make Me Happy.

oh I love this, thank you xxx

Ordinary Adventures

When I first thought of this post, I thought maybe I should do 4 things that make me happy this 4th. Then the list grew to fifty. And before I knew it, I had listed out 100 things that make me happy! It was so therapeutic and uplifting to recall and be thankful for all these little (and big) things in my life.

1. Spending quality time with my husband.
2. Blogging.
3. Going skiing.
4. Eating good food.
5. Getting home after a long day of work.
6. Buying new clothes.
7. Driving with the windows down.
8. Riding horses.
9. Getting little notes.
10. Having the thoroughly clean.
11. Lighting candles.
12. Getting things done.
13. Slurpees.
14. Getting a new piercing.
15. When my package is delivered.
16. Sleeping in.
17. Young adult novels.
18. The taste of Red Bull in the morning.
19. Finding new, beautiful…

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Amy Winehouse – A Lost Little Girl, Who Could Have Been Saved

 

Reposted from Huff Post

I saw Amy Winehouse three or four times in person at the London Clinic in December of 2009. I was there regularly, visiting my terminally ill father. Even in that environment, she was vibrant yet restless, surrounded by bodyguards, but somehow alone. My Dad commented on how sad it was that she was there from her addictions when she had everything going for her. He was right – if only she had known it herself.

The media after her death in July 2011, focused on her alcohol and drug abuse. But they didn’t mention her bulimia, nor the depression she wrestled with since she was a teen. The new documentary film on her life directed by Asif Kapadia sets the record straight, telling the tale of a brilliant woman who was plagued with self-doubt and deficient in resilience.

She was a happy child, but a troubled teen, finding her ‘perfect’ diet early on – eating a lot and then throwing up afterwards. In some old video footage she talked about being an ugly mug, because she looked different from others. But therein lied her beauty, a striking, unique charm that made her Amy.

Three quarters of young girls today don’t like how they look and five out of six are worried about getting fat. Amy was one of those girls, one that society didn’t save. If these confidence issues aren’t addressed they seep into later life. Amy’s bad relationships all stemmed from a belief she didn’t deserve love. Her eating disorders and substance abuse weren’t part of a ‘rock and roll” lifestyle, but because she couldn’t cope with the reality of who she was.

Confidence comes from loving what you do, not from external stuff such as image and fame. Amy loved her music but she was plunged into a world of live events, paparazzi and TV appearances, which was her worst nightmare. All she wanted to do was expel her pain by converting it into lyrics and music.

At the Amy premiere at Cannes Film Festival, we were able to honour her life, remembering that she was a ‎woman of great achievement who struggled with many demons. Every single person in the cinema was moved to tears by her incredible story. Contrary to popular belief, she wasn’t party mad or overly hedonistic. She was a girl in trouble that needed help and somewhere along the lines society failed her. Had she been supported during those vulnerable teenage years when she found fame, she could have coped better with life. Excelling at sport, music, or in your studies is not a guarantee of feeling good on the inside. The pressure to be perfect today is immense and it can be an addiction in itself.

At the end of the film Amy’s bodyguard reveals that she regretted her stardom. She would have given anything to take it all back, to be able to walk down the street in peace. She is now known around the world for the very songs that made her ill, Back to Black about her toxic ex boyfriend and Rehab about well, the obvious. She just wanted to move on and compose some new work away from the media eye but the money machine kept whirring. Her father even brought a film crew with him when he visited her on retreat in St Lucia. Each time she reached a new milestone, the Brits, Grammys, singing with Tony Bennett, she would immediately relapse. For when you don’t think you’re good enough these goals are impossibly unattainable and at the same time they are addictive because they are the only proof of self-worth.

Let’s make Amy’s early departure a learning for us all to protect our children and those we love in trouble. For many, many people suffer from mental health problems that have been swept under the carpet for too long. Amy wasn’t crazy, nor was she a wildchild. She was an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent, and she just needed the tools to assist her – if the appropriate coping mechanisms had been imparted along the way, from childhood, through to her years in the spotlight, things could have been very different.

Amy Winehouse shone very brightly and she still does. She is a reminder to all of us to take care of those we love and build, not crush, their confidence. Self-harming, eating disorders and suicide are all on the rise and we need to curb this heart-breaking trend. Her loss is deeply tragic but she has left an incredible legacy and not just her music. She has pathed the way for our youngsters, to stand in their truth and truly believe in themselves.

 

Milkshake

 

Thank you to this swan for her update on her recovery.

milkshake

All’s still going very well.  I am happy and a lot calmer in my life and with those around me.  I am finding it a lot easier to be open and honest with those around me, which has been noted by most people who come in contact with me.

Myself and my partner had a rough week a couple of weeks ago, due to a few insecurities I was dealing with. I had a therapy session to deal with these issues and now I am pleased to say we are back on track : ) I feel on a weekly basis I am growing and learning about myself.

It’s not all plain sailing.  I  am working hard at it, but it is becoming more natural to fit the tools into my daily life, sometimes without even realising I have used them, till after the fact . Last week I went into town with a girl friend and drank mocktails and milk shakes…was bloody lovely.  My friend was very drunk and I was very sober and extremely proud of myself. In fact I felt I was the better person for not having that need to drink. I was having fun without it.

I have tried many things over the years to cut alcohol out of my life and failed big style. I’ve tried AA and community counselling; just didn’t work for me, as I felt it focused too much on alcohol and that I was getting it rammed down my throat and that brought it back to the  forefront of my thoughts, and then I was obsessing about it. Just wasn’t for me.

In my present therapy we have barley touched on the subject of alcohol, but we have focused on me. We have worked on how I think and act, how I feel, how to deal with me –  and this works for me. I know it won’t be for everyone, as we all have different needs.

We deal with the whole me not just alcoholic me and it works and it’s fun. I am more me than I have been for the last ten to fifteen years and yes, it’s nice to have me back and to love life again.

So I say there is something out there for everyone – you just have to find it and when you do, grab it and run with it, with an open mind . My time is now and I’m loving it xx

Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up

 

Are you hydrated?  If not, have a glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours?  If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs.  Perhaps some nuts or hummus?

Have you showered in the past day?  If not, take a shower right now.

If daytime: are you dressed?  If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas.  Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.

If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep?  Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed.  If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.

Have you stretched your legs in the past day?  If not, do so right now.  If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please.  If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day?  Do so, whether online or in person.  Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.

Have you moved your body to music in the past day?  If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.

Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days?  If not, do so.  Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets.  Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.

Do you feel ineffective?  Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip.  Good job!

Do you feel unattractive?  Take a goddamn selfie.  Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like.

Do you feel paralyzed by indecision?  Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day.  If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable.  Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial.

Have you seen a therapist in the past few days?  If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.

Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually?  That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.

Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand?  That may be screwing with your head.  Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down.

Have you waited a week?  Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause.  It happens.  Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.

You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through.  You are stronger than you think.


This post is available as a downloadable one-page PDF here.

Some people have asked about making this into a poster or redistributing it.  This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License: alteration and redistribution are welcome as long as you attribute my tumblr.  For some background and FAQ about the post, see my follow-up post.

“Anything that annoys you is “for” teaching you patience. Anyone who abandons you is “for” teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet. Anything that angers you is “for” teaching you forgiveness and compassion. Anything that has power over you is “for” teaching you how to take your power back. Anything you hate is “for” teaching you unconditional love. Anything you fear is “for” teaching you courage to overcome your fear. Anything you can’t control is “for” teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.” ~ Jackson Kiddard

Yay! Yay! Proud to be Gay (and Vegan)

vibrant and truly alive, love it xxx

That Snarky Vegan Girl

We had such a great time at the New York Gay Pride Parade.  This year Jane and I marched with PETA and had a super fun time doing so!  Our pups, Cabo & Foxy, even joined in the parade! (keep reading below for some FUN video from the day)

Peta_Animal Rights_Gay PrideIMG_0373IMG_0371IMG_0375

Of course JaneUnchained.com had cameras rolling to document the festive event, and to see what brought people out to march for the animals and equality for all.  Take part in the adventure and watch the short video.

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