Roxanne

I was watching Roxanne last night, something easy to watch and there was a bit where CD’s sister Dixie says a riddle to him ‘what can you sit on, sleep on and brush your teeth with?’ and he debates a bit then she says, ‘well a chair, a bed and a toothbrush’….the upshot being that sometimes the answers you seek are as plain as the nose on your face…well of course!

 

It seems to me that we could perhaps in terms of alcohol abuse see a similar link. Like, why did I buy that bottle, why did I drink it and why do I regret it…because we have a dependency on a the drug alcohol and we cannot stop once we start.

 

As plain as the nose… there is no escaping it, no denying it, no way to get round it. If you have a problem with getting drunk despite your best efforts, you need to stop and stay stopped. This is what I revisit in my own head whenever the craving strikes (and the craving never completely goes).

 

At the weekend I was in the hotel bar, cosy little place with wood panels and swish bottles of wine right across the bar, lots of nice people having friendly chats, smell of delicious food from the restaurant, my red wine sat there at eye level, and I felt the craving very badly. But I made myself remember the truth as plain as the nose on my face. I am no saint, I am not clever, and I do not have all the answers. I am still a work in progress. I am a pain in the butt a lot of the time. But the answer to my cravings is as plain as. Wishing you strength and determination.

How it feels to be sober

 

Thank you to one of our swans for her story below.

 

 

I’ve had a great day today. I got tons of work done this morning, our business is doing so well and my family is happy! Everything used to be such an effort for me to be honest, I found doing anything work related boring…I had no enthusiasm or ideas, just the physical act of getting myself out of bed and dressed some mornings was as much as I could manage, I had a miserable feeling inside every day and looked for problems everywhere, I liked problems as they gave me excuses to drink. I quite liked drama too…as that was always a way to fuel a good drink. ‘Poor me’ was also a good one…you know, if you had my life, if you had my issues, if you’d been through what I had…you’d drink. Now I don’t have the obsessional thoughts about drinking my life is so much better and through not drinking I am calmer, less dramatic and happy. This afternoon we went to the beach to take the kayak out, I sat on the beach watching my husband and the boys out on the water…again I thought of how this would have been in the past. I would have been agitated, wishing the time away, tapping my foot, silently seething inside and working out how long it would take to get home…feeling annoyed that I’d have to cook dinner and get the children to bed as that would delay me being able to drink. As soon as that first mouthful was taken it would be downhill, towards the end of my drinking I would be calling myself the most awful names and having a constant monologue about what a terrible, awful nasty person I was as I gulped it down, no sipping or pretence of normality then. Being sober isn’t always easy…facing feelings can be hard but believe me when I say, facing my sober self is so, so, much easier than living with the drunk me. Everything is changing, I am changing…I put a whole lifetime of growing on hold by drinking, I didn’t know any better then. But I do now and for that I am truly grateful! I thank the universe every day for allowing me to finally experience my life like this…it’s truly amazing and a true miracle to me.

 

If you would like to join other swan members on Facebook there is a secret group, just friend request Binki Laidler xxx

Navigating Nights Out – Part 1

Good evening!  I’m going to have to start writing at a more respectable hour of the day as I’m tired and know that I should be preparing for bed, but what the hell.  Why not?  And by the time I’ve finished, I’m sure I’ll be wide awake again!

I’ve called this ‘Part 1’ because I get a feeling there may be more to report on in the future!

I went out last Saturday to try a new place in town that has been taken over by a couple of creative people who will be using the space to show artwork, hold events of different natures, promote creative iniatives etc.  On this particular night they were hosting Guerilla Eats – an array of different street food sellers who would be able to sell from there for around two weeks.

We all met at a different bar and when I got there a few had already turned up and as it happened my friend and two others had been drinking since 1pm and even been home for a nap in the meantime!  Once everyone had arrived we had a drink (cranberry for me) and made our way to The Wonder Inn for some of the marvellous food on offer.  I had a double beef burger with cheese, which might not sound exciting, but it was awesome and perhaps one of the best burgers I have EVER had.  To wash it down I had a San Pellegrino lemonade.  There wasn’t much of a bar going on here and for the ‘drinkers’ there were a few speciality beers and ales, so I was surprised they even had San Pellegrino as a soft option! (They are nice, too nice, but full of sugar.) Two drinks later, the general consensus was to move to another bar – fair enough.

Now, I had been thinking about this night out for a while.  I have been out since becoming sober, to a number of things in actual fact, and haven’t overthought the issues of everyone else having a drink.  For some reason this night was different.  Perhaps it was because it was a Saturday night? I don’t know, perhaps I had a sixth sense that it would be different, you know? A bit more ‘full on’.

Anyway,  having thought about it for so long and knowing that there was nothing different about my mindset – I knew things would be fine.  Strange, but fine.

So, here I am in the middle of ‘The Alchemist’ in the Northern Quarter of Manchester on a Saturday night.  Everyone is drunk.  Everyone.  With each round of drinks – bourbon cocktail, gin cocktail, bottles of beer, pints of lager – I have a mocktail.  And as the first one is passed over the bar, all of my friends slur, ‘Woooooow, that looks amaaaaaaaaazing’.  Too pineapple-y, actually, but thanks! (They lost interest by the time I got to my favourite – an apple mojito!)  Half an hour in and a friend of a friend, and the bar manager, decided to get a round of tequila shots.  He puts one in front of everyone including me and as my hand was half-raised to say, thanks but I don’t drink, my friend launched herself at me and locked me within her arms and shouted ‘Nooooooo – she can’t! I’ll protect yooooou…..’

I was in stitches and the shot was given to a deserving member of bar staff.  A lot of the group were giving me funny so I said that yes, not drinking includes not drinking tequila shots!  I get the feeling that they felt sorry for me, like I was really losing out. I much preferred sambuca shots to be honest – never was much of a fan of tequila 🙂

Prior to this display of love and ‘protection’ by my friend Hannah, I was asked by one of the guys why wasn’t I drinking.  I haven’t really been asked this so directly before and I said I gave up just before New Year’s Eve and have been sober since then.  To which he replied, ‘But when are you going to start drinking again?’

‘Well, I haven’t thought about starting again.  All being well, I won’t.  I feel a lot better and can survive without it.’

‘But wouldn’t you rather have a drink now? We’re all drinking…’

‘Oh my goodness, even if I chose to tonight, I can’t.  I’m on medication.’

‘When do you take your medication?’

‘Huh?’

‘What time of day?’

‘Err, in the morning.’

‘Well, you should be alright now then?’

‘No, it’s medication to deter me from drinking.  I take it every day.  I can’t have a drink because if I had alcohol now I would be very ill – vomitting, pounding headache, racing heart rate…I would probably have to go to hospital.’

‘Can you sick it up?  Not take one in the morning? It would be worth it, wouldn’t it?  You could drink more to numb the pain?’

OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!! Who is the fucking alcoholic here?  I’ve probably explained LESS to Hannah who wanted to ‘protect me’ from tequila shots (bless her) than I have to this dickhead who now knows I am taking medication for alcoholism and he is trying to tempt me to have a drink.  Fucking idiot.  Fucking ignorant, uneducated, dumbass fucking twat.  And he’s a teacher!  FUCK ME!!!!!

I was talking to the bar manager at one point a bit later and we were laughing about the shot incident where Hannah and I nearly ended up falling on the floor, legs akimbo.  As I was bemoaning the downside of mocktails being too sweet a lot of the time, I said, ‘I expect I am your least favourite type of customer, not drinking alcohol and moaning about the non-alcoholic drinks!!’  He looked completely affronted and said that the most important thing to him is making the customers happy and if they want a drink without alcohol, then the job of the bar staff is to make me a drink without alcohol.  And if I find that too sweet, tell them and the next one will be tweaked to make it better for me!  He was a charming, lovely man (also drunk as he was off-duty) and made me feel quite special amongst the mayhem of merry punters.

So, the night carried on.  I danced my little socks off, declined a dance with the arsehole teacher which made me feel better (!) and I didn’t get home until 3.30am!  Dirty stop out.

I suppose that there are always going to be people that can’t accept that some people choose not to drink, whether they know the reason for that choice or not.  And there will always be those people that just accept a person’s decision without question.  And we sober superstars must accept that.  I have no desire to talk to an idiot, arsehole, thoughtless dickhead, let alone try to change them and the way they think.  I really do think that some people are truly, truly dumb.  Others are jealous and may try to force you into having a drink because they can’t do it and don’t want to see you succeed.

Don’t give your time and energy to people who don’t want you to succeed, please.  Don’t ever feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone about the reasons you choose not to drink alcohol.  If someone asks a legitimate question, sure, answer it.  They might be asking because they want to do the same and want your opinion.  They might genuinely care and want to understand so that they can offer you support.  Hannah nearly crushed me with her arms and almost knocked me off my chair because she cares and didn’t want me to be subjected to the temptation.  Given, it wasn’t exactly discrete, but no-one else said a word after that! (And neither of us ever really ‘do’ discrete anyway.)

Nights out – they are a minefield for us for all sorts of reasons – but I can’t wait for the next one!

I’m off to make a hot milk as I’m not so sleepy anymore 😉

Toodle-oo for now xx

Separate the drink from the drinker

It can be extra hard to stay sober when we constantly beat ourselves up. Sometimes we apply labels that aren’t helpful, and confuse feelings about ourselves with the actual true facts. We routinely call ourselves names. It’s possible to forget that the addiction and the addictee (is that a word?!) are two different things.
Good parents and teachers know that disciplining a child for poor behaviour has to be carefully managed so the little one doesn’t think it is them as a person that is flawed, but rather their behaviour. Many of us can remember in childhood adults criticising us when they really ought to have been focusing on managing behaviour…the scars of feeling like a disappointment, feeling like there is something wrong with us, can last decades. Many of us need therapy to get over the labels and negative feedback thrown at us as children.
In order to continue our sober journey, and forgive ourselves and others, it is useful to try to separate drinking behaviour from ourselves as drinkers. What we did in the middle of a binge (whether it was a few hours or several decades!) is a result of the influence of alcohol rather than a result of being a fundamentally ‘bad’ person. Chemical addiction of any kind is a nightmare for those caught up in it. It doesn’t mean however that everyone who becomes dependent on a substance, alcohol or anything else, is basically a terrible person.
There is perhaps a case for becoming your own scientist. Review your behaviour much as a researcher would conduct an experiment; logically, rationally, unemotionally. When you can separate out the behaviour from the person, you can maybe start to forgive both yourself and the people who have influenced your behaviour earlier in life.