Sunday, 7 July 2019

Two years Alcohol Free

Two years ago I drank a bottle of red wine and, if that wasn’t enough, I also drank vodka .... neat.  I blacked out and made a complete arse of myself.  I still cant’t remember.... just little snippets that may or may not be a memory.  This wasn’t the first time I’d done something like this - but it was the last.  This was the beginning of my sober journey.

Two years on, my only regrets are the hell I put my husband and girls through, that I let myself get in to such a mess with booze and that I didn’t quit sooner.

What isn’t to love about being sober?  My mind is free of every restraint alcohol holds over you.  That’s not to say that I don’t think about drinking because, on occasion, I still do.  It’s more of a romantic wistful longing - a bit silly really, there’s nothing romantic or wistful about my relationship with alcohol.  When these thoughts do come to mind, I’ve trained myself to think of a time when alcohol did me no favours .... falling over in the garden, pissing myself, talking rubbish.  The list to choose from is endless.  I guess I play it forward.

I do still feel incredibly guilty about all those bad times and I should, but I am also beginning to realise that I can’t keep living in the past.  I am learning to forgive myself.

Not drinking booze and coming to the conclusion that I never will is the best thing that I have ever done not just for my family, but for ME.  

So, to anyone out there that is struggling with booze and might read this... do it, quit, give it a go.  I guarantee it is worth it.

XX 

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Sober Emotions

I don't count how many days I have sober now (that is a big step in itself I hope).  I remember the date of my last drink with great clarity.  What I don’t remember is what I did the previous night.  My nightly blackout this particular night was so much of a blackout that I can only rely on what my husband told me.   My FaceTime records show I held a 20 minute conversation with my mother - none of which I remember.

That’s in the past now though and I am learning slowly to let that guilt go.  Feeling guilty doesn’t change anything, but it does come in useful sometimes.  When I do have the odd pang for booze, I need only think about that night.  The guilt flicks that wine bitch straight off my shoulder.

I have come such a long way since 7July 2017... almost one and a half years ago.

Physically, I am healthier, my eyes are bright, my skin is good, my hair is bouncier.  I sleep and eat better.

Mentally, I am financially much better off, so I don't worry any longer about money (I could always afford to buy a bottle of wine though!), I don't think about alcohol much at all and all of the stuff that comes with that.  I am in control of my life, not alcohol.

I have had a heavy couple of months:  both my children have flown the nest and my home is so empty and quiet.... and tidy.  I got a promotion at work which is great... I have more responsibility and authority but this has not gone down well with some of my colleagues, so there has been a bit of back stabbing.

I have also had the make the difficult decision of cutting my sister out of my life.  I could write a blog just about her and her toxicity.  In a nutshell, she has caused so much shit in our lives, I said ‘enough’ (actually, I said a lot more than this), deleted and blocked her from my social media and blocked her mobile number.  Life has been much calmer since.  I can’t see the snide crap she posts about me on Facebook, so it doesn’t bother me.

I am thankful that I am sober and strong with it.  I’ve been able to deal with my emotions - sadness, loneliness and anger - much better, because I am sober.  I know that if I was still drinking, everything that has happened in the last couple of months would have been an excuse to drink even more.  My problems would have been ten-fold.

Monday, 1 October 2018

What is an Alcoholic?

What is an Alcoholic?  What is your definition of one?  What does your mind conjure up when you think of the word 'Alcoholic'.  Is it that man that you see sitting on a park bench drinking out of a bottle hidden in a paper bag?  Is it that woman in front of you at the supermarket that smells of booze, buying a bottle of vodka or gin .. or whatever?  Or is it that woman (or man) that is well dressed, has a decent job, seems to have a good life?  That person who is just very capable of hiding it well?

I ask because my friend - whose husband very recently passed away - is livid.  She has his death certificate and it says the cause of death is decompressed alcoholic liver disease.  She took some calming down I can tell you!  She said the Doctor who certified the death got it wrong:  Her husband died from multiple organ failure.  His liver stopped working completely and then so did his kidneys.  Yes, she said - there was alcohol involved .... but "He was NOT an alcoholic!".  

While I find this a little strange taking into account her feelings expressed to me a few weeks ago, I can understand she does not like the connotations this has and she doesn't want her children having this as their legacy.  The certificate has to be forwarded to various people and she told me that they had previously had their critical illness insurance refused due to the reasons of her husband's illness.  I don't doubt that is also an element of denial too and embarrassment.  She doesn't want strangers knowing her business.

You see, it's the words "he was not an alcoholic" that bother me.  When I think of someone as an alcoholic .... And I really detest that word .... I think of someone who drinks way too much than they should on a daily basis, I think of someone who hides what they drink, someone who hides the empty bottles.  Someone who obsesses about where, when and how much they can drink from almost the minute they wake.  Someone who cannot go even for a day without a drink of booze.

I know, because I was that person.  An alcoholic has many different disguises.

My friend's husband couldn't even stop drinking booze when his life depended on it.  I spoke to her parents yesterday - when they were clearing up her overgrown neglected garden recently they found empty spirit bottles galore hidden in all sorts of places.

For now, I think her denial will be how she's going to cope with her grief and that is her perogative.  All we can do is be on standby for when or if that denial turns into anger.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Farewell Chris

This afternoon I received some awful news from my friend whose husband I've written about on here.     The husband with advanced liver disease.  Chris died earlier today.  He collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital where he slipped away.  He couldn't stay sober so was never going to get his second chance at life.

I'm saddened, shocked.  I'm also angry for my friend - her husband, her lover, her best friend couldn't do what he needed to do to stay alive.  But who am I to judge?

This so easily could have been me.. Or you..... I'm grabbing my second chance at life with both hands and giving my truly wonderful husband and my two darling daughters and extra big hug tonight.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Eventually

I have absolutely no doubt that had I not stopped drinking alcohol, I would have slid even further down that slippery slope to 'proper alcoholism' - where I would have lost everything, my family, my home, my job and my health.  I'd be drinking cheap vodka for breakfast full time (I was already getting to be a part timer at it).

Eventually, I'd be suffering from advanced liver disease:  I'd have almost luminous yellow tinged eyes that would seem to bulge out because my face was so thin and gaunt.  My skin would be a funny browny colour - almost like a sun tan, but not.  I'd be so thin from the lack of appetite that all I could do would be to lie on the sofa watching shit TV, dozing on and off because I was so exhausted.  My home would be fitted with various disability aids to help me get in and out of the shower, the house, up the stairs to bed.  My muscles would have wasted away, I'd be skin and bone and would look like I had an eating disorder, with the exception of my round bloated abdomen which I would have to have drained every two weeks.  I would look and act like I was twice my age.   I'd have to take a cocktail of drugs just to keep me going for the day and it would be very difficult keeping them down.  I'd have to try hard not to vomit them back up.

My husband and children would be worried sick about me, would hate me, would resent me all at once.

I'd get thinly disguised looks of horror from visitors - those people who I hadn't managed to alienate.

We would have to sell the house or face being repossessed because the mortgage isn't being paid because we are a salary down now that I can't work.  I can't claim much in the way of benefits.

There'd be endless visits to the hospital to see consultants, prodding, poking, personal questions about my drinking:  How much, how long?  You must tell us the truth which is hard when you have your spouse sitting next to you and you have been secretive and lying for all these years.  Those visits where you are told your liver is beyond repair.  This is your life now.  Just one more drink of booze will kill you.  The trouble is that you want that drink - you need that drink.

This, unfortunately, is my friend's situation with her husband (the one I have mentioned previously).  I haven't visited since my last encounter, but went this weekend to drop off my friend's birthday card.  The visit was awful.  Horrendous.  In just a few months there is a massive difference in how her husband looks.  He was a strapping 6 foot odd big built man who used to play sport a lot.  Instead of the 20 stone he weighed - he is now just 11 stone.  He looks like an extra out of the walking dead - limbs hanging, shuffling, dazed and unable to speak clearly.

They have been told that the only option left is for him to have a liver transplant.  His consultant is dubious because of the past history of relapses.  He's not strong enough either and, of course, he needs to go on a waiting list if he is suitable for a transplant.

My friend said she hates her husband now.  She resents him.  She hates that she has to help him with the simplest thing.  She hates the endless trips to the hospital where she has to listen to her husband's attempts to lie about his drinking.  Then she has to listen to the truth.  He didn't really get this ill after only a year of heavy drinking.  She hates seeing other patients with the same problem - various different shades of yellow.  There are those who leave the hospital opening a can of lager.  She hates that her chidren are suffering.  They have been acting up at home and at school.  They are both at important impressionable ages. 

He is obviously no longer working.  His severance pay ran out a long time ago.  She is struggling financially.  She is scared to open the letters coming from her mortgage lender.  She knows what they say.  Her utility providers are about to refer her outstanding bills to a debt collector.  They are coming to install prepayment meters.  She owes her retired parents money.

She wants to leave him but feels that she can't.  His family don't live in this country.  If she leaves he'll have no-one.  She feels responsible for him but resents this.

This is what can happen when alcohol controls you.... when you can't stop at just one.  You don't just fuck up your life.

Luckily, sensibly I saw the light and quit in time and for this I am thankful for my 404 days sober.  This will not be my 'Eventually'.  I only need to conjure up an image of my friend's husband to imagine my 'Eventually' if I drink alcohol again.


Friday, 3 August 2018

Drinking dreams

Last night I had a 'drinking dream'.  The first that I have had for a long time.  I remember it clearly, like it actually happened.

It wasn't a good drinking dream - one where I am enjoying just the one glass of wine.  No, this one was reminiscent of what life was like before becoming sober.  In it I had a bottle of my favourite red wine and a large wine glass.  I knew I was sober, that I shouldn't be drinking, but I was desperate.  I quickly poured the first glass and drank it quickly and secretly and then I hid the rest of the bottle for later.  I then spent some time trying to act sober in front of my family.  I also 'appeared' in a supermarket and bought a huge bottle of Amaretto liquer 'for a friend's birthday'.  Then, later on when the effect of the first drink had worn off and I was sober, I realised that I had to find the hidden bottle so that I could dispose of it before Mr W found it.  Only, I couldn't find it!  I searched everywhere I could think of ..... I was panicking and anxious (I HAD to find this bottle) and then I woke up.

I woke up feeling the same way I used to every day before I decame sober:  Feeling shitty, hungover, ashamed and tense because I had drunk alcohol (albeit in my dream).  My jaw and teeth hurt because I've been grinding my teeth.

It took me a little while to realise that it was a dream - just that and nothing else.  I've still been sober for almost 13 months.  I felt relief.

If I am honest, this dream has shaken me.  I had thought that I was passed this stage and I don't know what may have affected my sub-conscious to prompt me to have a drinking dream.  Other than yesterday, when there seemed to be a huge amount of posts about Gin on Facebook, there is nothing that stands out as a trigger.

I'm hoping this type of dream doesn't happen again and I am reinforcing to myself today that I have been sober for 393 days and that I WILL continue to be sober.

Drinking dreams can bugger off!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The art of saying "No, thank you"

My one year soberversary passed on 7 July 2018 without fanfare or without comment nor acknowledgment from Mr W or the girls.  Inside, I was cheering and congratulating myself but I appreciate that for my immediate family it's just another day in the office.  What is a massive milestone and achievement for me is nothing to them and that's just the way it is.  Still though, I knew the wine witch was lurking which surprised me a little - she's not been all that vocal recently (a quick flip of my middle finger and she usually goes).  She kept popping up every now and then throughout the day to tell me I didn't have a problem at all with alcohol - I've not touched booze for a whole year.  You're cured!  You can moderate!  Mmmmm - yeah right!

Anyway, back to the subject heading!

Mr W and I enjoyed our holiday abroad:  It was a fairly quiet resort with not a lot going on and our hotel was fabulous.  We went half board rather than all inclusive, so that we were not completely tied to the hotel.  

However, alcohol seemed to be featured a lot in this hotel.  No kidding, you could even have cava for breakfast!  

Firstly, when we arrived to check in we were offered a glass of Cava, but I declined politely, said it was a little early in the day for us and asked if they had water instead.  Mr W, actually seemed to take offence when he was offered and was (I thought) a little abrupt "No!  We don't drink!" is what he said.  We did get a strange look, but yes, they had water and we were subsequently given a glass.  There were also a number of 'themed nights' for the evening meal and when you walked into the restaurant/dining room you were offered a cocktail ..... sangria, marguarita, etc.  I felt a little 'displaced' on our first evening trip to the dining area when I was offered a drink.  I asked what it was and was informed it was Sangria, I asked if it contained alcohol (although why, I don't know - of course it did).  No, they didn't have a non alcoholic alternative and no, there was no water available.

Bearing in mind that I am the one that had a major problem with alcohol, I think I have learned the art of saying "No, thanks - not for me" (or similar) quite well.  I don't feel the need to explain myself to complete strangers and nor do I want to.  However, Mr W was a completelty different kettle of fish and I would have to try and speak first before he did.  When I was too slow, he'd exclaim "No! We don't drink" and worse (on one occasion):  "No!  We are sober".  

I feel awful, for saying this out loud, but it was plain embarrassing and awkward.  I did, nicely, try to explain that we don't have to give a reason for our refusal - we just have to say no thank you or not for me.... easy!  No-one cares if we don't want a drink of booze.

There was one evening that was extremely awkward because of Mr W and I really cringed.  We went to the Hotel's posh restaurant for a meal and we were brought a cocktail.  Mr W  looked very annoyed (are these waiters and waitresses meant to be physic?) but I managed to jump in first and ask if they contained alcohol.  Yes, they did so I asked if they had an alcohol free one - not a problem Madam.  The waitress who brought the replacements remarked that they were AF and asked if we were having a night off from alcohol.  Mr W remarked "No! We just don't drink anymore, we're not like some of these people that just go on holiday to drink you know! And, you can take these wine glasses and wine list away too".  I mean, WTF!!  Was there any need?  The waitress scuttled off.  I was seriously mortified and told him so.  I felt as though he was he was drawing attention to the fact that we are sober and I felt ashamed of this.  I know there is no reason why I should feel ashamed but Mr W could do with a lesson or three in diplomacy because he is seriously lacking in that department.

If I'm honest I am a little irritated that it is presumed that everyone drinks alcohol and there is a woeful lack of any alternative.  In another restaurant/pub, I asked for their mocktail list.  They didn't have one, I was told to choose one from the cocktail list and they would leave the alcohol out.

I did have a little snigger to myself at one point though:  I received an email from the Hotel mid stay asking how our stay was so far and if I had any comments/suggestions for them that might make ours and other guest's stays nicer.  I mentioned that it would be lovely if they could offer guests a non-alcoholic alternative on their themed nights in their restaurant.  The next day, I had a note pushed under our room door thanking me for my suggestion.  As a thank you, they were enclosing a voucher .... 10% off my next bottle of wine!  Really!