Mind the gap

gap

 

A lovely lady posted pictures of vintage blankets she is collecting on her Facebook page and this  reminded me of the benefits of having projects on the go at night to stop the feelings of boredom and loneliness that lead to many of us wanting to go back to drinking.

blanket

It is absolutely crucial to have something planned to fill in the gap in time, often at night, that opens up when drinking alcohol is no longer a vald lifestyle option.

 

I am knitting squares at the moment to make what I think of as a sober blanket – in the winter it will keep me warm and each square will remind me of the hours, days, weeks, months and then years I am sober. The warmth and cuddliness of the blanket will be a sources of pleasure, just like being sober. I love knitting and of course knitting one square after another in front of the telly might not be everyone’s cuppa, but it helps me keep the ‘bad’ thoughts at bay. What are you doing in the evenings to fill the gap? Do you have a cunning plan?

 

cunning plan

somethings, big and small

I have found a really great way to improve motivation and help me to realise my options is to check in, morning and evening – a little review, if you like. Some people have a routine called ‘morning pages’ where they write or verbalise their plans daily, and this routine can help to inspire and direct. The swan groups on Facebook have morning and evening check ins which are there to help people recognise behaviours which may or may not be helpful to them.

 

For most of us, not everything always goes the way we want or plan it to. There are times when we will think that we could have done better or wish we hadn’t done ‘something’ in a particular way. If I had a pound/dollar for each time I messed up, I would be living in a villa in southern Spain and swimming in my pool while staff looked after my every need…

We could all spend time beating ourselves up and feeling sad about what could have been. It’s a choice. Another way to deal with these ‘somethings’ both big and small are to treat them as learning opportunities. What we learn from our ‘somethings’ can very easily be transformed into something more important.

They can be transformed into new and different behaviours, options and responses that could make a difference in how we take on the world and the effect we have on others. From my own point of view, as part of my recovery journey I went through a stage of wanting everyone to just stop drinking, now, immediately, no compromise, no negotiation, no ifs or buts. My language was often harsh and my comments frequently cutting. I upset people. I still do, but in life there will be people who you upset no matter what you do…you can only try your best. It’s part of the territory when you learn to stop people pleasing and follow your heart’s desire.

 

I still believe drinking is not ok. I will never tell anyone it’s ok to drink the drug alcohol. However I am grateful to have added compassion and patience to my list of must haves – not consistently good at this, but I have learned not to push others when they are not ready to be pushed. I have learned that I have no right to put a time limit on other’s recovery or insist they do things ‘or else’… I have learned that I am not responsible for others’ recovery. I can be there, have infinite time for them, but I am not in charge of how they deal with their stuff. None of us are. We can only direct our own stuff.

You may already have your own review system, where you learn from your ‘somethings’. If not, I would recommend at the start and end of each day you watch your own movie…where you do good and where you would prefer a different option for tomorrow. It might only take a few minutes. Consider the interactions and behaviours you want to improve or change, and maybe rehearse mentally what the new behaviours and interactions feel like. Like I say, I am still learning how to do this, but daily check-ins make a massive difference to how I deal with life and my stuff.

Welcome to Irrelevant Island

I have so far been through several phases in my ongoing recovery from drinking too much, for too long.

There was the initial period of wanting to go back to drinking, and feeling very angry because I knew I could not drink ‘safely’ and it felt so bloody unfair. It was all about me, then. I just hated everyone and everything and ‘it’ was NOT FAIR.

There was the angry period of hating alcohol and what it did to me in the past and wanting to write about that all the time. It was still all about me sorting out my head. The book came out of that.

There was the frustrated and angry period where I wanted other people to think like me, rather selfishly. I was starting to look round out of my own universe and think, look at all these people getting pissed, isn’t it terrible, how could they! If they just do what I do they will be fine! Silly buggers!
There was the fix it period where I felt if I worked hard enough I could stop other people drinking by sometimes shouting at them, sometimes laughing with them, but always wanting what I had, for them. I had a mission. Selfish again, really, as there were no compromises. I got into a lot of arguments and got called names.
More recently there has been a phase of just realising that trying to put my stuff onto other people is actually pretty pointless, because they aren’t me. They will stop if they want to stop. I can be there and be friendly, kind, supportive etc., but in the end they won’t stop until they want to. Stopping trying to fix people has been a great step forward for my personal journey.
If people ask for advice or support then I am happy to give it. But dictating to people is something I have recently stepped back from and it feels much better. I slip up from time to time when someone really gets under my skin and the old Binki resurfaces, but generally I am practising a spirit of ‘I am here if you want me, but ultimately stopping drinking is your responsibility’. I’m not saying that is what everyone should be like, but it is where I am at.
I think the reason for this is partly selfish because lately alcohol has gone from being ever present in my life, something I just hated and literally obsessed about, to actually something irrelevant. Like an ex-husband. I know that I still have to be vigilant, but somehow the idea of drinking alcohol these days just seems pointless rather than dangerous. I just don’t see the point any more. I just want to celebrate being alive.

I am really grateful for landing on this particular island and hope I get to stay here for a while, because it is a peaceful space. Hope I don’t sound smug. I guess what I want to say is, maybe if you persevere, you can expect to get to your own Irrelevant Island. Maybe you are already there, or have a different island you are enjoying. I was trying to explain the feeling to my husband last night and the closest I could think of was sobriety for me right now is like meat to a vegetarian – eating meat is entirely irrelevant to their lifestyle. It runs that deep.

104 weeks or 730 days

First posted April 4th by Rachel Black
Two Years Sober
Today I am 2 years sober.
or
104 weeks
or
730 days
or
many many hours, depending on how you count your sober time.
Either way, it represents a lot of wine I have not consumed: at my last pace this would be at least 500 bottles of wine and that’s only allowing for 5 per week! No extra at the weekend or other occasions deemed ‘special’ in some way or other.
500 bottles of wine! Picture that in your recycling bin for a moment, the image seems much more significant than merely saying two years!
I haven’t mentioned the date at home. My OH would not realise, ask, wonder, nor find it in any way relevant, so I quietly congratulate myself on my achievement, remembering how hard it was to stop drinking and how much harder it was even to decide to do so.
Did I celebrate? Yes and no. There has been no widespread marking of the occasion but I have gifted myself two identical, new beads for my charm bracelet. They’re fairly plain: white, with little metallic shiny details. Simple yet elegant, with no resemblance to a drink, a glass, a bottle of wine,  or memories of those things. I love them: they are totally my style, my choosing and I know exactly what they represent.
I’m surprised at how two years with no alcohol seems to be both a massive deal and a non event at the same time. Not drinking alcohol is a big part of my life because… it does not feature in any aspect of it. Further, as time passes it no longer features in my thoughts and does not often make it onto my day to day radar.
The ‘challenges’ are no longer challenging. The organising and planning no longer required. Things, stuff,  life, just happens and do so without booze by default. That’s just the way things are now. I firmly believe there is no option (for me) and I’m pleased by that. I don’t actually want any option: any choices to make or consequences to consider. I honestly would not now have a glass of wine even if you told me I could and that I would stop at that one. I don’t see the point any more. It would not enhance my life. I can see through the smokescreen to the hype and the myths that having a drink or getting drunk is fun. A quick flick around my facebook friends any day of the week confirms I am right. Tales of woe, regret, embarrassment, shame. Apologies for being vodka fuelled monsters and offers of amends that will be made, while knowing deep down, that whatever has happened cannot be changed.
I feel lucky to have learned this lesson and the one that follows: that the future can be changed and none of us are helpless to make the changes we truly want badly enough.
In my life, alcohol is almost like a massive storm, a tornado even, whipping up chaos and destruction in its pathway with me tightly sucked into its vortex. The devastation so significant my life cleaved into two parts; before and after.
For many years I stayed there, within its boundaries and control, feeling unable to escape its complex distortion until I saw the solution was not to try to control the uncontrollable, but to remove it completely from my life. Remove any role it had, remove the fuel from the fire and wait for the storm to die down.
It did.
I can see it so clearly now, and believe me when I say, there is no-one more surprised by this than me.
Read more about this on my blog here

It’s been a while…

Hello! Well, I haven’t been here for a while, but I thought I would say hello. Day 94 and I’m feeling proud of myself for that! I am full of disbelief – I knew that I was finding it easy, but there was a niggle of doubt as to whether I would be able to stick it. It is a massive achievement, given some of the shite I’ve had to deal with since I stopped drinking alcohol and would normally have turned to alcohol to help me deal with said shite.  I can only pray that I continue to have no cravings or moments of weakness.

My mum made me feel awesome today (mums can be quite good at that most of the time but this was something else for me!) She has been very forthcoming with words of praise since I stopped drinking alcohol. ‘I’m really proud of you’, ‘You are doing so well’, ‘Keep up the good work’. We went out shopping today and my mum likes to go for a drink (usually on a Saturday, but Good Friday is fine too). While we were out, she asked me if I was ok with her and my dad having a drink – it was absolutely fine with me. I sat and sipped my elderflower pressė. Then, back at home later on this afternoon – out of the blue – she says, ‘Do you know, what you have done is better than anyone else in this entire family has been able to do and followed through with it?’ (Ooooh, this’ll be a long list, thought I!! Jokes) ‘What’s that mummy dearest?’ I replied, in the polite manner that we always talk to each other… ‘You recognised that you can’t handle drinking alcohol and you sought help and did something about it. No-one else in this family as EVER done that’.

I suppose I should point out here that my family are all big drinkers. BIG drinkers. Apart from the ones that aren’t and those ones don’t drink AT ALL. We’re an all or nothing family of drinkers, it would seem.

My uncle is coming to visit tomorrow and I actually can’t wait to tell him I’ve stopped drinking. He likes a drink and if the slightest thing sets him off when he’s had a few, he turns into a nasty drunk. Which is what happened to me (among other things) when I was drunk. I had already thought last week that I can’t wait to tell him that I can’t handle alcohol, that I suffer with depression and recognised that I had to make a change. My mum saying what she said today made me feel so happy. Happy that it makes her happy, happy that people recognise it’s no mean feat. And I also felt a pang of sadness, because I think my mum would have liked it if more of the family had been able to do the same a lot earlier on. I’ve achieved a major goal and I’m going to bloody well share it!! At least I know The Olds are proud, and that really matters 😉

Hope you all have a peaceful Easter, feel proud of your achievements and don’t be afraid to share them with your loved ones.  Alternatively, grab a ladder, climb up to the roof of your house, and SHOUT ABOUT IT!!

Toodle-oo for now xxx