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.

Lots to think about…

I have stated before that I have been extremely lucky in this, hopefully my last, attempt to become sober once and for all.  I haven’t had cravings, nor suffered any withdrawal symptoms.  I haven’t fought with feelings of ‘Oh, normally I’d do this with a glass of fizz’ and if I have had anywhere near that thought, it has been fleeting.  I have been able to envisage a life without another glass of wine or ‘poshecco’!!  Picture myself totally in control at all future weddings (not mine I hasten to add) work dos, birthdays, funerals (again, not mine 😉 ).  I can’t give any other explanation for this other than my head is obviously ‘in the right place’.

Or is it that I was so ashamed of my behaviour over the last few years that I have been put off drinking for life?

Or is it the disappointment in my father’s face when I fell off a train onto the platform flat on my face because I was so drunk?

Or is it the money that I poured down my throat over the years?

Perhaps it was my use of social media to publicly humiliate an ex, when in actual fact it is me that is humiliated?

Maybe the possibility of losing my job over the aforementioned social media no-no?

There are hundreds of events that I could list that I wish I hadn’t done, people I wish I hadn’t upset, family I long to have not disappointed and the constant self-loathing and depression.  But nothing can be done to change what has gone before.

Now I have to think about the future.  My re-found confidence.  To look for another job and to meet new people, make new friends.  I have done more in 71 days than I have done in the last 10 years, if not more.  I have done a spot of public speaking!! I am doing a little more for our good friend Binki this Saturday!  I have agreed to do a talk for a friend to a group of people in May (on what, I have no idea!).  Public speaking was an absolute ‘NO WAY’ before I stopped drinking!

I have set up The Happiness Club, in conjunction with Psychologies Magazine and ‘Action for Happiness’ and I am embracing changes in my personal life and taking steps to overcome difficulties in that area.

I feel positive and I need to give something back, as corny as that sounds (albeit not as corny as ‘The Happiness Club’!!).  I have had counselling, psychotherapy, group support, CBT, help from A&E departments, help from the police, help from local medical professionals and services, help from friends and family, help from total strangers.  All because I was selfishly throwing alcohol down my neck.  I am nearing the end of my first course in Counselling, with the second course to start later this year, so that I can start to give back.

So you see, I have a lot to think about – but it’s looking forward and it’s looking positively to find a way to make my awful experiences over the last 20 years of my life count for something and somebody.

And if this post comes under ‘Recorked’s Blog’, I think I may have finally cracked it Binki 😉  Hurrah! xx

 

Be more Dave

by Fiona

dave dog

Some thoughts occurred to me whilst out walking with Dave, my beloved hound and bestest recovery buddy, in the pouring rain. I was trudging along, slipping in the mud wrapped up in my usual dog walking garb of several layers,  hat pulled down, scarf pulled up doing that walk we do in driving rain and wind – huddled up, head down, hearing nothing, seeing only my own muddy boots.

 

Not so for Dave.  Dave does not give a flying rat’s arse about the weather. Dave doesn’t  give two barks  which, if any, paths he takes.  Dave doesn’t have his head down. Dave is alert to every sound, sight and scent-  all of which need thorough investigation. Dave misses nothing   – like the two swans looking very tranquil in the fast flowing river – a bit like af,  sometimes it looks so  easy  – well it’s not, there’s oft times when there is a great deal of frantic paddling just to stay afloat let alone move forward.  –  But this is Dave’s blog – always ready to help round up those ducks, ready to play with any other dogs who will put up with him and a few who won’t, immersing himself in everything including the odd ditch.  Dave knows the countryside where we walk better than I do and I’m the one supposed to be taking him for a walk.

 

The river, fields and woods really looked quite beautiful even in the rain – now that I had bothered to look, really properly look.    There was a heron on the opposite bank standing so still I would have missed it but for Dave’s radar.

 

We can miss so much, head down trying so hard reach our af goals. It’s not the destination but the journey for Dave and he takes in everything en route .

 

Dave lives in the moment and every moment is his best.

 

I’m going to try to be more Dave on our next walk, anytime in fact.

 

Walk tall and proud, chin up, deep breaths and really use my senses so as not to miss anything and really live in the moment, enjoy the moment and those moments add up and make days.

 

Try it lovely Swans – just for today – Be More Dave!

 

Woof  xxx

Past lists

by Catherine

 

I have been looking back over past lists and notes I made when I was either thinking about stopping drinking, or had stopped.

This is a list I made in July, I remember reading this over and over, thinking it’s all very well me knowing all this…But how do I actually do it?!
On the 26th of August 2014 I woke up, hungover, afraid, full of shame and guilt and knew that this was it…I had to put all of these words into action.
I think, the fact that I was so sick and tired of feeling so sick and tired was the real motivation for me at the very beginning. The list did help me.
To-do list….

Do not plan to drink again.

There is a difference between ‘wishing’ things were different and actually ‘wanting to quit’.

Stop making excuses by making a firm decision not to drink, do not use life as an excuse to drink.

Do not let regret or embarrassment stop you from getting help.

Use the tools you have when you want to drink and listen to what people say.

Cravings are temporary and WILL pass.

Do whatever it takes to not drink.

Find your recovery/AF path

Staying AF has to be your number 1 priority.

Find the positives

Gratitude – start writing a gratitude list every day.

Commit to making a real change, it needs to come from the part of you that is sick and tired of feeling like this.