Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sober 101

A few thoughts on being sober. Maybe you find some of it useful. May it inspire.

I love being sober. I love my clear head, my gorgeous deep sleep, the time I now have to do things that I care about.

Being sober is easier than I thought. After a few relapses and false starts in my attempts to end my drinking, this time I feel I'm on the right track. From Day 1 I have felt very positive about getting sober. My sobriety is my gift to myself. I can now look forward to another 20 years of life, enjoying what I do. I now know that I won't have to keep drinking, feeling dreadful and wasting away the last few decades of my existence.

I don't miss alcohol. It may be surprising but I really don't. I went from 2 bottles of cheap red wine a day to nothing and I did not have any cravings. I don't think I even had withdrawal symptoms. The witch/wolfie/beast did not whisper in my ear much. I just stopped. And now it seems the natural way to do things.

I have not changed my routines. I still drive past the same bottle store, I still shop in the same supermarkets. I still buy my husband's beer (a six pack lasts him a week or more). I still cook dinner at the same time of day in the same kitchen. I have simply stopped buying and drinking alcohol.

There is no social pressure to drink. There are fewer drinkers in the world than I thought there were when I was still drinking. Not "everybody" drinks. Quite the opposite. I can have a lot of sober company. I don't get nagged to drink in the ah-come-on-just-the-one-who-is-counting-everybody-needs-to-relax kind of way. Never have been.

I have not outed myself completely. I tell people that I'm on the One-Year-No-Beer (includes wine and any other alcohol) challenge and that I'm loving it. The reactions I get to this have been 100% positive. Many of them with a hint of jealousy or admiration, e.g. "I don't think I could do this.", "A whole year, really?!", "Good on ya!" (this is New Zealand, after all!) People don't look down on me for not drinking. They don't pity me. Some even envy me. Imagine!

Social events are better now. I don't go out less than I did as a drinker. My drinking was mostly done home alone, anyway. But now I enjoy social gatherings much more. I don't have to plan anything to organise and hide my alcohol intake. Like, how much to pre-load, so I don't look greedy at the event, how much and how fast I can drink, whether I will make a fool of myself, realising that I've had too much but continuing to drink and starting to do embarrassing things. Not remembering much about the night before after waking up the next morning. That's all something that has been replaced by a calmness I never possessed before. I can now talk with people without trying to work out how soon I can slip away to refill my glass. I no longer check if anybody has registered how many times I already did go to refill. Because my refills now are all healthy.

Finding yummy alcohol-free drinks can be hard. Alcohol is in abundant supply and alcohol free drinks are often harder to get by at social functions, especially non-sweet, non-alcoholic drinks. Almost everything fizzy is also sweet, either with a boatload of sugar or with low calorie sweeteners -- but it is mainly sweet. I wish there were a more taste-neutral options. I don't like the "diet" or "zero" fizzies and juice is just too thick. Yuck.  At home, I don't have that problem. The SodaStream machine gets a good workout. Spritz of lemon juice, dash of home-made ginger kombucha. Better than any G&T ever can be.

I had some help. I've had a few conversations with Jackie from Sober Sassy Life. She listened to me and made me feel understood, which helped me a lot in the early days. Just having someone to hash out how you feel, why you feel that way, what you can do, what you're afraid of, what you're proud of -- that made a big difference. I did not have someone like that in my every day community, but internet chats worked just fine for me. She gave me the boosts I needed to keep my rocket on course. Thank you, Jackie!

Blogging is useful. Writing about my experiences helped make the thoughts and feelings more real. Getting comments and encouragement from strangers and people I had read in other blogs is great. That encourages me to stick to my commitment and keep thinking positive.

I'm sober and I love it. Today is my sober Day 101.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Missed it ...

Two days ago I reached my 90 days sober. Of course I wanted to write a blog post on that day, but our ultra-fast-fibre network decided to throw a hissy fit and left me stranded without internet the whole weekend. Me!! Without internet!!

So, I missed my 90 day milestone post.

Hello 92 days. Still feels good. I'm so calm. Rested. Ah, the sleep I'm getting!! I'm out like a light long before midnight and sleep like a log until well after 7 (or until the alarm goes off).

I'm dealing with a bit of a curve ball at the moment, since my dear husband (DH) managed to fall off a ladder and broke his hip. That was 3 1/2 weeks ago.  I drove behind the ambulance that took him to the ER on the Friday night. Note that I was still able to drive on a Friday night, an unthinkable situation only a few months earlier.

I was able to speak with paramedics, doctors and nurses and the next day I remembered what we talked about. I stayed with him until 3 am, until there was really nothing I could do to help him feel better.

Over the following days I was up early, without any hangovers or other after-drinking effects, got my busy days sorted, what with the kids, work, the house, the hospital visits and all. In the evenings I stayed with DH in the hospital until he settled in for the night. I was calm and peaceful.

Compare that to ...

... a few years ago, DH had an accident that put him in hospital for a few weeks. A year later he was in hospital again for a few days to get something fixed. Those times I could not wait to get back home when I visited him. I was impatient, inwardly drumming my fingers through every minute of every visit, because each minute I spent in hospital was a minute I'd rather be drinking but I could not. And I would have been drinking if only I could be home. I resented that he kept me from getting my alcohol fix. After all, the coast was clear at home. He was not there, obviously, so I could drink more freely at home. Pizza for the kids delivered to the door instead of picking it up. I could drink while waiting for the pizza, not while picking it up. Alcohol supply sorted every day on my way from work. Empties stashed in the car or even in the recycling bin. Hiding not required, because there was nobody to hide it from.

I'd drag myself out of bed in the mornings, barked at the kids, felt crappy during the days. After work, I would try not to get over the limit when loading up before my evening visit with DH. I would avoid coming too close to him, so he would not smell the alcohol on my breath. I would find excuses to go home as early as possible and then all the stops came out.

I was an awful caregiver. Only thinking about my drinking, hating myself and my behaviour, resenting him for needing me, for keeping me away from alcohol, for coming home and taking my alcoholic freedom away again.

How different it is this time. I am no longer a slave of the beast called addiction. The witch has stopped whispering into my ear. I am content and peaceful without alcohol. I have energy to burn. At any time of day or night I can climb behind a steering wheel and help my family and friends. I have patience and keep a positive mood, despite the challenges.

Throughout the last three weeks I have consciously thought about what would happen if I would have a drink in this situation or that situation, playing through the scenarios. I could not find a single aspect of the last few weeks that would have been better with me drunk.

Nothing is better drunk. There is not a single situation in my life that can be improved by me drinking alcohol. And I'm glad I don't have to anymore.

Thanks for reading.