From the beginning…

I first posted this on Soberistas in February, I left the site the following day and I haven’t felt up to writing the next part yet. I will do soon I hope.

This is going to be a long story so I apologise in advance…it may seem totally irrelevant in parts but I’ve had all this in my head for so long I need to get it out…if you do try to read, I apologise for the way I write it…its just going down as it comes to mind. Some parts may not make sense I think and I am sure the chronological order of everything may not be perfect.

My mum was born into a dysfunction family…her father left when she was only a baby and my Irish grandmother was left a single mother of three young children, in the late 40’s this was frowned upon an as such my mother grew up as a social outcast, I remember her telling me she never felt she fitted in and was always thought of as odd, they were very poor and the church helped them out often. Throughout my mothers childhood my grandmother drank, at a constant level. My mother had two older brothers who my grandmother struggled to keep under control, when they got to their teens they both went into the film industry and started earning a lot of money. They bought a sports car and used to go to parties and casinos in London, this was in the late 50s…they partied hard and drank a lot. On the way home one morning my eldest uncle lost control and crashed the car, killing his brother. He was arrested and was charged, the court case was long and drawn out, but he avoided prison. This propelled my grandmother into a severe depression and her drinking increased, my mother found her with her head in the gas oven a number of times.
Around this time, my mother went into nursing…she left home and moved to the training hospital in central London, this gave her the opportunity to just be who she wanted, she told me she loved to go to parties but rarely drank.
When she completed her training she carried on working at the hospital…she met my dad in 69/70 he was 10 years older than her and seemed very grown up. They married in the early 70’s and my mother was unaware of his chronic alcoholism at this stage. He worked, he was well liked, he never drank at parties. But the house was held up by his empty litre whiskey bottles…apparently they were everywhere in every possible space. I was born in 75 my sister in 76…my dad was a doting father, but the pressure of living with an alcoholic was too much for my mother…they separated on a number of occasions as well as my dad trying various in and out patient treatments. Finally in the early 80’s they parted company…my dad moved to another town and we moved too. We lost contact with him for a few years as his drinking continued, but finally my mother found him in a mental hospital, we visited him there on a few occasions and when he left he moved to a halfway house then a small flat.
So, as for me…I always felt like I was different, I never fitted in and was a bit odd. Having to keep family secrets is a lot to bear for a child. I was also very bright…my mother was obsessed with taking me to places to get my IQ tested! At 3 I had the reading age of a 12 yr old…but I hated school with a passion. I was always in trouble for being obstinate. I went to a convent school with French nuns and they were wicked…I was regularly caned and had my mouth washed out with soap on a number of occasions. I don’t remember anything happy or fun about these years, my mother was a hard woman and I didn’t like her. We spent weekends with my dad and he always had a bottle of ‘coke’ with him…that was out of bounds for us!! The weekends with my dad were full of fun, I realise now that my mum had the usual family stuff to deal with and had to keep a roof over our head and pay school fees all on her own, so my dad got the easy bit of just providing us with lots of good times!
I think it was probably when I was about 8 that I remember my mum starting to go out drinking with her friends…the overwhelming smell of her perfume, Opium turns my stomach now. My grandma was with us a lot during these years and we spent the whole of the summer holidays with her, miles from home as my mother worked full time. I wouldn’t see my dad for the whole of the holidays. During my primary school years I saw child psychiatrists regularly…I had a problem with not talking, I could just shut myself off. I remember the head teacher shouting at me…she really lost it, I expect I was a very frustrating child! I wet the bed every single night till I was 11, soaked from head to toe, I remember shivery nights being stripped off and put back to bed three or four times. I spent a lot of time in hospital having all sorts of investigative operations. Phew think that’s enough for now.

What do you love about yourself, now you are sober?

Sometimes when people behave in ways that I don’t understand or don’t grasp ideas that I think are obvious because they have a different view of the situation, I have a tendency to catastrophise. Like pretty much every person under the sun, from time to time I experience what people honestly call a ‘problem’ or two with the perspectives of others.

Something I find useful in trying not to panic about how a situation will turn out with someone is employing what NLP practitioners call an alternative perspective. It doesn’t necessarily change the problem, but it does change the way I look at it, and the sense of doom that something bad is automatically going to happen starts to recede.

I have struggled with anxiety about people and how they behave, and how people perceive how I behave, for most of my life, and sometimes it is simply agonising because I hate confrontation, and yet I have this deeply held belief about fair play which means I cannot walk away.

I have found a great deal of inner peace through studying CBT and NLP methods to manage my anxiety. For instance, to adopt the perspective of someone else when dealing with a problem can enable a different point of view which brings relief from anxiety about how things will turn out. If for example, you try to adopt the point of view of a doctor, a religious leader or guru, a psychiatrist, a teacher, an engineer – anyone you like. Then compare their perspective with your own.

It’s a very easy and cost effective way to get a second opinion and a third and…!
I find that when trying to understand why someone would behave in a certain way, seeing how they act from the perspective of someone else really helps. To see through the eyes of a teacher, for example, might show me that the person with whom I have an issue really needs educating and hasn’t acted in a selfish or thoughtless manner on purpose. To see through the eyes of a doctor might help me perceive that the person has a series of health issues that might alter the way they interact with the world. To see the person or situation through the eyes of a spiritual leader might help me develop compassion for their situation which may be affecting the way they relate to others.

Much of the reason why I drank was about anxiety around other people. I used it to calm anger and frustration, I used it to calm nerves about meeting up. I used it to squash emotions about people who I disliked but had to deal with. I used it to squash my instincts about the motivations of people who appeared to care but had really quite selfish interests. I used it to cover up what I suspected about myself.

Getting sober hasn’t just been about learning to deal with people without a chemical prop, it has/is about learning to cope with my feeling about myself and how I feel others perceive me. I am deeply insecure despite the bluster. What I do love about myself now I have got to get to know myself a bit better, sober, is that I am stronger than I knew. That’s quite exciting. I bet you are too. What have you learned to love about yourself? I would love to hear xxx

The peaceful mind

The peaceful mind

by Hippydippy66

Hi All

This is my first of many blogs I hope.  I wanted to kick off with looking at the nature of our mind, on quite a simplistic level.

As I am sure we can all relate, when we have been drinking in the past, our mind has been anything but peaceful. Indeed, alcohol makes our mind depressed, anxious, fearful and we can be filled with lots of self loathing.

In comparison, when we have a sober mind, our depression, anxiety, fear and self loathing is lessened, I would suggest, quite considerably. This is not to say that when we become sober, all our problems magically disappear (I wish), but that problems are easier to deal with with a clearer mind lessened by the effects of alcohol.

Buddha teaches that the mind creates our reality.

From my own experience, I know that when I had been drinking I was highly critical of everything and everyone around me at the time, until the alcohol wore off. The same situation and people when sober would appear to be normal to me. This is I feel a clear example that our faults do not lie in anything external to us, it is our own mind that is projecting the good, the bad ad the ugly onto people and external situations.

I love the idea that whatever I feel and create is down to me and my own mind not the result of anything external. This feels really empowering.

I know that I therefore have a responsibiity to keep my mind as peaceful as possible which I will blog about later.

Thanks for reading

Love me x