Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Hiding Places

I'm going on holiday in a couple of days, but when we get back we are having some work done to the house so I have been desperately trying to sort out my holiday clothes (unfortunately none of them fit anymore due to the weight gain) and clearing out a storage cupboard that is crammed full of ... shit  .... to make way for new pipework, etc.

I pulled out a couple of refuse sacks filled with old Christmas decorations, an old vacuum cleaner that doesn't work (why do we keep this stuff), The Husbands golf caddy that was used twice .... and came across a bottle of red wine - opened with only about an inch of the stuff left in the bottom.  I'd come across a former hiding place.  I know it has been there for at least a year (seeing as I am 361 days sober), but I immediately remembered knowing that I had hidden a bottle of wine somewhere in that cupboard but not being able to find it when I went looking for it to get rid of the evidence (I'd have swigged the rest of the wine first).  My next thought was that I must have been a contortionist to have put it where it was .... or very determined not to get caught out.  Then I felt shame:  How bad had I become?

But, you know I hid booze everywhere in the house.  I was an expert at it.  Some of you lovely sober people out there might identify with these hiding places (if, indeed you did hide booze like me):

  • In plain sight - in a water bottle in my handbag (no-one would dare go in to my handbag).
  • In my wardrobe.... this is where my husband found my empty water bottle that had been filled with vodka.
  • In my knicker drawer ... under my knickers.  Not long ago, when having a clothes clearout, I did come across a pair of knickers stained with red wine.... Gross!
  • Under my bed, hidden in unused handbags.
  • In the bathroom cabinet where I store towels.  I'd hide the bottle underneath all the towels.
  • In my daughters bedrooms when they weren't at home.
  • In the kitchen cupboards .... right at the back where you need an extra long arm to reach something.
  • In the car .... underneath the seats or in the box I keep in the boot.  These were usually the empties, so that I could dispose of them somewhere else other than home.
  • In the garden .... this was a pretty good place when I smoked.  It worked better when the nights got darker earlier (Autumn and Winter) I'd get home from work and squirrel the bottle of whatever behind a plant pot.  Then, when I went outside for a cigarette, I would have a sneaky drink too.  I used to fall over in the garden loads of times and face plant the grass.
I have to hand it to myself - I was pretty resourceful!  All of this was so that my husband and daughters wouldn't see how much I was drinking.  How awful is that?

Luckily, I found the hidden bottle of wine and not my husband - that would have been AWKWARD!  I still have that element of sneakiness about me though - I emptied the remaining wine out (it was definately off) and disposed of the empty bottle in the external refuse bin .... right at the bottom.

I did beat myself up a bit about finding the bottle and then remembering/thinking of all my other hiding places, but this morning I have picked myself up and given myself the frame of mind that "That was in the past - things have moved on, I've sober for almost one year and ... I wasn't as clever as I thought I was - If I were, I'd have gotten rid of that bottle long before now."

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Almost One Year Sober

On the 7th July 2018 I will have been sober for one whole year!  Who'd have thought it?

This year, I'll be celebrating my one year sober anniversary sunning myself on a hot sandy beach.  It's something I would not be doing if I was still drinking.  I wouldn't have been able to afford it.

I've spent the last couple of days reflecting about the last year:  how I've coped, how being sober has benefitted me (and those around me) and what would have happened had I not stopped drinking.

I have to say that I am almost grateful that I had my personal 'rock bottom' moment.  It is still very fresh in my memory and, whenever I begin to romanticise my drinking days, I think of this time and of other times.  These memories still make me feel incredibly shameful.  I suppose it's one of my sober tools.  I do think this 'sober tool' of shaming myself isn't going to be good for me in the long term - I mean, how long should I beat myself up for?  I am beginning to concentrate on the many, many good things of being sober:  I can go to watch a film late at night and drive home.  I can pick my husband up at midnight.  On Monday night, I picked my younger daughter up from a concert.  BECAUSE I WAS SOBER!

I have no doubt that, had that night not happened, I would have continued to drink and I would have just gotten better at hiding it - especially the water bottles filled with vodka.  Who knows where I'd be.  Perhaps I would be like my friend's husband who has severe liver disease.  Perhaps my husband would have left me.  Perhaps my two wonderful daughters were not speaking to me.  Perhaps I might have lost my job.  Perhaps ..................

But, BECAUSE I AM SOBER, my relationship with my family has improved immensely, my finances are looking up and I am healthy.

Best of all:  I AM FREE!  I can honestly say that it is so liberating and such a weight off my shoulders that I no longer have to think about how, where, when and why I am going to get my next drink.

This last year hasn't been plain sailing - of course it hasn't.  Stopping drinking means you have to change yourself.  You have to give yourself a good hard look and a damn good shake.  You have to admit that you cannot moderate.  Alcohol is not good for you and you cannot ever drink booze again.  That is incredibly hard, but it does get easier when you start to see the benefits.

I am truly excited to see what the next year holds for me.  Whether there are ups and downs, I am prepared.  I know I can handle it.  BECAUSE I AM SOBER AND FREE! XX

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Should your partner stop drinking alcohol to support you, when you quit?

I realise that the subject heading of my post is a tricky and emotive one, but it's something that I've been thinking about for a couple of weeks now.  In fact, I've been overthinking about it and I really, really need to get it off my chest!

Firstly, I would like to say that I have absolutely no experience in the subject - just my feelings and thoughts which are based on the fact that, when I stopped drinking booze, Mr W did too.

I never asked him to stop and I never expected him too either.  He just did.  When we were on holiday (in the days after I quit) he had one pint of lager.  He didn't enjoy it and didn't even finish it ..... but then he was a 'normal' drinker.

Consequently, I have never had to deal with the emotions of watching him with envy enjoying a glass of wine or a pint of lager.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my friend's husband who has severe liver disease.  I posted about us finding him lying in a pool of blood in the bathroom.

He had what is called a split, bleeding varices (again - he's had one on an earlier occasion).  Apparently, his liver is so damaged and scarred that his blood is having a really hard time moving through it.  Blood needs to find a new easier way to get to the heart, so it has done this by opening up new blood vessles (varices).  These vessels are usually formed along the lining of the stomach - so when one splits and bleeds massively, you vomit and shit blood.  Sounds fun, doesn't it?

He needed an operation to seal the split vessel.  He has been told he must never drink alcohol again (again).  Next time, he may not be so lucky.

I met my friend on Friday night to go to a cheap and cheerful Italian restaurant for a pizza and a catch up.  She's been pretty desperate to have a break from her family.  She promptly ordered a bottle of white wine and when I reminded her that I was drinking cola, she said that was fine she would drink it.  And drink it she did.

Naturally, talk turned to her husband's health.  It appears that they are both in denial about various things.  He denies drinking that day .... apparently the vodka filled water bottle was from a time before - when he was "over doing the drinking".  I reminded her that the top was off the bottle.  Why would that be?  She doesn't know that I KNOW all of the tricks!  I've been there and done that!  I was very tempted to tell her all and it was only my pride that stopped me.

I pointed to her glass of wine and asked her if she was still drinking at home in front of her husband.  "Oh, yes - of course I am.  He doesn't mind." was the response "I buy the boxes of wine that hold about three bottles, so I know roughly how long they should last me."  To be honest, I was a little stuck for words, so just initially said "are you sure that's a good idea?"

There is one massive red flag right there for me:  She is buying boxes of wine when her husband has alcohol related liver damage and is possibly struggling with remaining sober.

A little while later I did pluck up the courage to suggest that she not purchase boxes of wine and instead buys a bottle at a time - at least then she can gauge what it left -  if any is left.  I know how easy it is just to sneak that extra glass with out anyone knowing.  I also tried to suggest that it may be better if she didn't drink wine in front of him for a little while but she just retorted that he doesn't mind - he hasn't got a problem with alcohol - he was just over doing it..... (See - denial?)

I get that what they choose to do in their own lives is nothing to do with me, but on the other hand I know that giving up and staying off booze is bloody hard work.  I don't want to sound pious, but you need all of the support you can get when you decide to quit the booze.

I'm pretty sure that it can't be 'no problem' for her husband when she is quaffing wine around him.

I can quite happily socialise now around people who are drinking alcohol, but I do think my sobriety would have been much, much harder if Mr W had continued to drink alcohol.  Who knows if I would have even been able to continue with it?

I suppose that all I can do at this stage is hang back and be there if I am ever needed.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Wine Memes

I found this 'meme' on my Facebook Memory Timeline thingy earlier and thought I'd share it:

I shared this photo to my timeline exactly two years ago.  At the time, I'm sure I found it humorous.  Seeing it this morning made me cringe a bit because it was so true and accurate - I did love my wine more than anything else in the world.  Wine trumped everything.  Only now can I see that.

Needless to say, I have not shared this 'memory' on my timeline.

Now, things could not be more different.  When I say "I love you" to my husband it is him only that I am talking to (and the tub of icecream).


Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Harm That Alcohol Does

For a while, before I quit drinking, I experienced spasm like pains frequently - although usually in the morning.  I would get these pains in my chest area but mainly to the right hand side of my abdomen. I knew it was my Liver suffering from the amount of alcohol it was having to process and quite often I would scare myself stupid that I was either going to have a heart attack or my Liver was about to explode.

By all accounts, the Liver can repair itself if it's not too badly damaged and if you look after it..... Like, not drink alcohol.  According to our NHS website, every time you drink alcohol, you kill a few of your liver's cells.  Even if you binge drink, if you stay off the booze for a fortnight, your liver can go back to normal.  Now, in my opinion, (being an ex lush) that's a pretty moronic piece of advice.  Someone with a problem with alcohol may think.... I'll give it a rest for two weeks, then I'll be fine..... See, I don't have a problem with the booze!

Having said that, when I became sober, my pains vanished almost instaneously.  I have also been reassured from blood tests that my Liver function is normal -so, if there was any damage, my Liver has repaired itself.  Phew!

Now, to get seriously serious:  I have really pondered whether to write and publish the following.  It won't be pretty reading and will be graphic.  But, if I ever have doubts again about my sobriety, or if that wine witch comes calling, I will re-read this post over and over and if one other person that reads this post thinks twice about touching another drop then reliving today's events and writing them down will be worth it.

I haven't seen my best childhood friend properly for almost three months.  We've texted sporadically and bumped into each other ice or twice when out shopping, but that's it.  I had kind of given up because I thought she didn't want to bother with me much because I don't drink anymore.  

Anyway, on Saturday night I received a text from her.  Would I mind picking her up from home (her car is in the garage) on Sunday morning and we'd go for a walk along the beach and have a coffee... She had something she wanted to speak to me about.

Her husband, who has been a heavy drinker for as long as I've known him ... About 15 years ... Has advanced liver disease.  It is because of alcohol misuse.  His liver will not regenerate, it's beyound that stage.  He is 51.

Previously, during a catch-up, we had discussed his drinking.  She was worried about his health and he was suffering so much from anxiety problems that he had to give up working.  The last time I saw him, I had noticed that the white of his eyes had a yellow tinge to them.  My friend had also noticed this, but her husband brushed her concerns off.

She told me that she had forced him into going to the doctors, who immediately sent him to hospital.  After various tests, that is the outcome.  His Liver is fucked.  He has had to stop drinking alcohol.  He had to have medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms.  He has to have medication to help keep his liver as stable as possible, he has lost over 40 lbs in weight, he physically can't do very much anymore without getting tired quickly and he has to have his abdomen drained of fluid every two weeks.  He has also had various urgent trips to the hospital by ambulance because of internal bleeding.

When I dropped her off at home, her young daughter, who is 12, ran out of the house to us panic stricken..... Dad was lying on the bathroom floor with blood every where.

Obviously we both ran upstairs to see to him.  I can only describe it as stepping into a blood bath.  He  was vomiting blood, although, at first I thought he'd cut his own throat.  The toilet and the floor was awash with it.  He had also lost control of his bowel and bladder.  There he was lying there barely conscious.  My second thought was "that's not him, that's some with stage 4 cancer who is about to die.  He was always big built... Not anymore.  He is this peculiar shade of light mustard yellow.  

It was horrific, everyone was panicking, the kids were crying and hysteric... Somehow, I found myself ringing for an ambulance, which seemed to take an eternity to arrive.  It didn't of course.  Whilst I was doing this, my friend took the kids out of the way.  After hanging the phone up, my eyes rested upon a half empty Evian water bottle almost hidden behind the toilet.  I picked it up and smelled it.... Vodka.

I will not forget her face when I gave it to her and told her what it was.  It was a look of many emotions.  I will not forget today ever.  These images will always be etched in my memory.  I feel sad for them, particularly for my friend and their children.  What must they be going through?  I am beginning to feel a burning anger too... At him.  He knew the risks, knows what the consequences are and he still choose to drink alcohol.

When the paramedics arrived, my friend explained the problem.  They asked him if he had had any alcohol.  He mumbled "no"!  I did what I know is the right thing.  I told them he probably had and showed them the water bottle.

I spoke to my friend earlier, her husband is still very poorly but he is 'stable' .  She said the doctors have said it is 60/40 as to whether he pulls around.

Today has been a real eye opener.  This could easily have been me... Or you.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Sober Socialising

Firstly, I just want to write that, as of today (19 May 2018) I have been sober for 315 days!!!  In a few weeks, I will have been sober for a whole year.  I am immensely proud of myself.  The longest ever period of being sober previously was three weeks.

Last week I took a weeks holiday from work for a bit of R & R.  It's the first time that I would completely be 'on my own' for a significant length of time during the day.  Mr W was working pretty long shifts every day and the girls are both working.In my previous life, I would have obsessed about how much I could drink.  The week would have been completely wasted.  I would have, at the first opportunity, gone to the supermarket to buy my booze stash - two bottles of wine or one bottle of wine and a quarter or half bottle of vodka.  Either a bottle of wine or most of the vodka would have been drunk when I got home .... whilst 'doing some housework'.  I always rationalised with myself that I was on holiday .... so I could drink.  In reality I was slipping down that slippery slope to alcoholism.  I think I was more than halfway there.

I would then be so pissed that I would have to go to bed to sleep it off.  I would then 'wake' up - hungover, feeling like shit and, often, still drunk - rush around doing the housework I should have done earlier, etc, etc.  I'm sure many of you out there know the drill.

Anyway, this time, I admit that I did feel a little anxious:  Would I be bored and then be tempted?  I planned ahead.  I booked appointments to give myself some 'me' time - I had my hair done, my nails done and (for the first time ever) my eyebrows waxed and tinted (christ, that stung).  I made a note of all the things I wanted to achieve (mostly a good spring clean) and put little sticky notes everywhere with 'clean/tidy me' written on them.  When the task was done, the sticky note was put in a pile and the job was marked off the list.  There's a great sense of satisfaction in seeing everything on your list crossed off and a pile of sticky notes showing things that have been done.

The other thing that I did whilst on holiday was socialise sober four times!  I attended two bbq's (one a friends birthday and one a impromptu family one) and two organised meals at restaurants (one a work retirement party and the other a family birthday celebration).  I managed all of them pretty fine and enjoyed them all.  I also amused myself by seeing how sloppy and slurry people get when they are drunk.

I found the bbq's much easier to handle - you can wander around chatting to people with a plate of food in your hand rather than a glass of something.  It's an environment where you can help yourself to whatever.

The restaurant trips were slightly more difficult - particularly the work do:  You're stuck in one place - confined almost - and surrounded by people drinking wine, vodka and tonic and gin ....  Initially, I got the "Haw haw!  Still off the booze?" from my boss.  I did have a little snap at another work colleague:  The conversation had turned to flavoured gins and I was asked for my opinion and which ones had I tried.  I said I've never liked gin (I don't like the smell) and I don't drink alcohol anyway.  "Oh!  How boring!" she said "I think anyone who doesn't drink is boring."  I replied "Well, I think drunk people are sloppy - but each to their own!"  There was a deathly silence for a couple of seconds before I said that my sister liked flavoured gins and the Parma Violet was her current favourite.  I'm not particularly proud of being snappy.  I was being wound up and I bit.  However, I refuse being called boring because I don't drink alcohol.

The family birthday celebration was much easier and, after the palaver over my mothers birthday, I played no part in organising this one (my step-fathers).  Mr W was sat next to me and he doesn't drink now either.  My girls were opposite and did have a cocktail each.  My sister was sat next to me and after four gins asked me about three times why I was drinking coke instead of wine.  Eventually, I was a little short with her and said "Because, I don't want to bloody drink wine!".  "Ooh!  Alright!"  she replied.  What I took away from that conversation is that pink gin and lemonade breath stinks!

At the end of the night, it was much easier to add up our proportion of the bill.  Unsurprisingly, it was my sister who tried to dodge paying her share.  But, I was sober so kept out of that little squabble.

So, my lesson to myself last week is that I don't have to have no social life because I'm sober.  I can do it.  It isn't too difficult for me, it isn't a trigger.  Yes, I am finding that drunk people irritate the hell out of me... But I can handle it.  I can always leave early if I want, right?

Saturday, 28 April 2018

A dilemma and a wobble

My youngest child, who is a young adult, is pretty good at cake making and decorating and she's in the middle of making a cake for someone.  She is making various decorations with fondant icing which require painting and the powder that she is using needs to be mixed with something that is alcohol based rather than water (don't ask me why... I don't have a clue).  

We were having a chat and she was explaining how she was doing things and mentioned she had obtained a bit of vodka (that was in a water bottle) from a friend so that she can mix the powder to paint the icing.  I was not phased, nor bothered by this and really didn't give it a second thought.

Then she left the house and I went into a cupboard to get tin foil out.... There, on the top shelf is the water bottle with an inch of vodka in it.  I could smell it as soon as I opened the cupboard.  I really, really wanted it.  The wine/vodka witch was straight there... Telling me I could have a sip, have a taste, I won't like it anyway..... No-one will know... Top it up with water... 

I think that this is the first time that I have really felt a really strong  craving for alcohol.  Before, I have yearned for a drink but I don't think I have really physically felt this bad before.  I am shocked that after all this time of being sober that I can still experience this.  I am really sad to realise that I still really have a problem being around alcohol.  Sure, I'm fine being around other people drinking.  I  have had a left over bottle of wine in my fridge before .... But insidious vodka in my home?  No.

I can't blame my daughter.  She won't have realised that it might have this effect on me.  It didn't enter any of our heads.  But should I ask her to be more thoughtful in future?  Do I want my family to know that they still might not be able to trust me?

I am pleased to report that after a bit of pacing around the house and a bit of hand wringing, I gave myself a mental smack across the face.  I have been sober for 42 weeks.  Dos I really want to give that up for a sip of poison?  I've managed to distract myself by putting some washing away and running myself a bath with lots of bubbles.... So, I'm enjoying a soak in the bath whilst looking at reviews for hotel we are staying at when we go on holiday (and blogging on here).  I wouldn't be doing this if I were not sober.  Luckily, Mr W will be home from work too!  Xx