First Birthday

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A year ago today Sober Stella was born. Drunken Doris was laid to rest for a while to give me time to get my act together, crawl out of the deep hole that I was digging for myself and smell the roses.
To those of you embarking on this journey, I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it feels when the fog clears and the cravings ease. Some days are tough, even a year on, but never tough enough for me to slide down that ladder to day 1 again.
If im totally honest, my main aim in the beginning was to dry out for a while and then moderate and drink socially. That kept me going as thinking “forever” was way too hard. But as time went on, the less attractive drinking became. I could wake up after a party feeling and smelling like a daisy, fully aware that friends felt like shite and we’re drowning in shame and anxiety as they tried to piece together the fragments from the drunken blur of the previous night. God, I never want to go back to that, but I’m happy to be the person that they can turn to with a clear memory and no judgement!
My appearance has improved dramatically I like to think! I look much healthier, I weigh 20 lbs less and I can even look at myself in the mirror each morning and not be disgusted. Obviously, others have noticed a change in me, but I just tell them that I’ve chosen ‘clean living’ most of the time. They don’t bat an eyelid or assume I had any problem before. Phew! My immediate family know the truth and couldn’t be more proud of me. What the heck?  I couldn’t be more proud of me either!
There’s NO WAY I could have done this without the  Soberistas website. I’m pretty sure I will be a life long member on there as reading other blogs is so inspiring, be it hearing about a new member’s day 1, or another being a few years down the line. Thanks to everyone out there who writes on this topic. Every word makes a difference to someone somewhere.

RIP Drunken Doris, I never want to see you again! Off to celebrate this fabulous day and looking forward to another beautiful morning tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

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268 Days of Tea and Roses (well, maybe not the roses part….)

image I didn’t really plan to get this far in my alcohol free journey  as it didn’t seem at all possible. But I’m here, insanely happy and almost bursting with pride.

In the beginning, I spent a lot of time reading blogs about quitting drinking and noticed that not many keep updating past a few months. That scared me as I took it to be an indication that they weren’t able to stay on the happy train.

Now I think it’s more a case of they reach a  stage where they feel safe enough to go it alone or it just doesn’t register in their daily life anymore. I’m a mixture of both, quite safe and not as many triggers.

But I am reminded of it in positive ways many times a day. First off, the mirror. I no longer stare at my eyes to see if they’ve turned yellow. And if my bags are really crap one day, I can honestly blame it on a bad reaction to my wrinkle cream. No shame there! I no longer have to suck on cough sweets all day at work to hide the smell of stale wine. I don’t cringe when the trash truck picks up my recycle can that used to house enough empty wine bottles to start a winery. And of course, I no longer wake up at 3:00am in a blind panic and try and remember what the hell happened the night before.

I do still get sad, mad, angry, paranoid and anxious, it’s just a million times milder than before. On the very odd occasion, I miss the feeling of drifting off into Stella’s Wine World, but I just wait a few minutes and it passes. Takes about the same amount of time as it takes my tea to brew in the teapot. It’s true, tea does fix everything!

It still feels a tad unreal. Nobody around me has changed their habits or batted an eyelid really. I’ve done sober flights, a wedding, family celebrations and sober sunsets. I’ve also cut my hair, bought makeup and lost 20 pounds. Pretty fair to say it’s the best I’ve looked and felt in my life. The makeup isn’t a mask by the way, it’s just because I can actually bear to look at myself in the mirror and I no longer feel the need to hide myself away in disgust like I used to.

I’m on the countdown now to my first year anniversary. 97 days to go. I’m not going to say it will be a doddle, because it won’t. Nothing in life is. Some days are good, others are not. That’s just the way life is. Swings and roundabouts, a balancing act and lots of tea. Off to put my lippy on now…💋

 

Fasten seatbelts

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It’s been a while since I last touched base on here. My second goal of 50 days came and went without much ado to be honest, although I have had a rather large Cheshire Cat grin on my face now and then. Being British, it’s not really in my nature to blow my own trumpet, but can I just say how flippin proud I am of myself? 57 days without wine! Who would have thought that possible just a couple of months ago? Not me, that’s for sure….and I think it’s safe to say that my friends and family didn’t either.

When I first quit, I was reading blogs and message boards for hours every day. I wanted to know how I was going to feel at each stage and what would be going on with my body as I detoxed. I wanted  a guide with a check box for each stage. I wanted to know how I would know what I needed to know about what I should know about what this thing was all about….if that makes sense…..but lets be honest, not much about all this stuff makes much sense really.

All I can say is that in my first blog, I mentioned that I thought it would be a bumpy ride, and it certainly has been. But not a horrid turbulent journey, like going to fall out of the sky type thing. More like a Mulholland Madness ride with sharp twists and dips with the odd smooth run mixed in.

After three weeks or so, I didn’t feel the need to write each day. It was an amazing tool in the beginning for keeping myself accountable, but later I felt quite comfortable watching from the outside so to speak. I followed others as they began their journeys and rooted for them and cheered on from the side lines. I still do… you know who you are!

Around 6 weeks AF, the fog cleared and I felt, for the first time in my life, that I never wanted to drink alcohol again. I didn’t see that one coming! I just thought that I would abstain for a while, a few weeks maybe, then treat myself  now and again as I would  have become  a normal drinker. I was actually looking forward to it! But I don’t see that happening now. I’m not sure what earth shattering experience would make me want to go back to how I used to be. I’ve come too far to take a single step back.

I know there will be other hurdles ahead, and just last week I was so frustrated at how monotonous the days have become sometimes. When I get angry or sad I don’t have that Wine World to visit that gave my escapism from reality. But it’s ok. I’m working on changing things up and encouraging Ed to join me in being spontaneous now and then… eat out on a Thursday?? Why not! Go for it! Live dangerously!

So there are new twists and turns ahead, but hopefully more plateaus too. Who knows? Not me. There’s not really a guide books for this. I’m taking notes from here, there and everywhere (cue Beatles) and feel indebted to every single person who has shared their words and experiences about their own journeys. It’s a privilege to part of this inspiring albeit anonymous world. Thank you fellow travelers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stella 1 – Wine 0


imageSo I’ve now reached my first big goal of 30 days. It actually seems longer, as waking up with hangovers seems  like a distant not-so-nice memory. It has meant  a total change in my lifestyle and routine, and at times has tested my strength to absolute limits. It has not been easy by any means, but it has totally been worth it so far.

I have been continuing to read blogs on here and on Soberistas by people who are on or thinking about joining this new journey. In my very early days, the thought of reaching 30 days seemed like something I could only dream of reaching. I was so envious of the people who had a few weeks or months under their belts. The first steps are slow, heavy and exhausting. But that is just something that we have to get through in order to reap the benefits.

In reading some of those courageous stories, I have come across some that really make me wish that I could propel them forward a day or two so that they too can see  that it is worth battling through those tough times. Sadly, there isn’t a magic wand or some wonder drug that makes it an easy ride. I’ve seen smokers be guinea pigs for various quit smoking trails expecting overnight success. Of course they don’t succeed. The only easy way through any sort of change is if you truly know that you want it more than anything else. And I can’t stress enough that declaring that you are never going to drink/smoke/eat crap ever again is probably the best way to set yourself up to fail.

One of the reasons I have never gotten a tattoo is because how can I be sure that what I would be happy to have on my body right now is something I will like in 10 or 20 years time? Do I like the same things in my 40’s as I did in my 20’s? Not really…except for my family and  a handful of friends that survived the years. Our tastes, priorities, and interests change. So I can’t honestly say that I will never drink again. Who knows what is ahead of me? All I can say for sure, is that I don’t drink right now  and I don’t see myself drinking in the next few days or weeks. That’s as far as I’m going to predict right now.

Under no circumstances am I trying to preach to anyone on here, I’m just genuinely trying to offer support to anybody  reading this that feels overwhelmed or scared of failing. It is a challenge that you are in control of and you can plan your own path and  timeline as you go along. If you want it, you can do it. It is your choice, not a punishment. It is a choice.

 

 

 

Dangling Carrots

imageSo it’s been three whole weeks since my last drink of alcohol! Oh my how the first week dragged, especially the lead up to the first weekend. That was the hardest I think. Once that was out of the way, I kind of knew what to expect. I’ve had days of severe exhaustion that hits mid afternoon, and the odd grumpy, prickly day, or maybe that’s just me anyway.

My initial goal, aside from getting through each day in the very first week, was to do a 30 day alcohol free challenge. Will I drink on Thursday, 5th of May? I really don’t think so. I feel so good right now and I’m certainly not ready to give in on this. I think it is safe to say that this one is going to be a 50 day challenge. Why not 60? That’s rather predictable and 50 is half way to 100, which might, just might, be the new goal after the next.

So what’s the carrot that’s being dangled to keep me on this path you might ask. I think the largest, juiciest one is not wanting to let myself or my supporters down. As I’ve mentioned before, only a handful of people know that I’m doing this. Not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed. Not at all! I just don’t think that not drinking for 30 days is a big deal to most people and I don’t want to have anyone make me feel like it’s not a major achievement for me. I don’t have a sweet tooth in the slightest and never eat chocolate, candy or cakes. Going without them means nothing to me, but for some of my family and friends it’s a major thing to go 2 days without a Kit-Kat or sugar in their tea. It’s all relative right?

Also, I want to be able to have a bigger impact on those that don’t know, when I eventually tell them. To be able to have a couple of months or more under my belt would make me feel  even prouder. My daughter lives away and does not know anything about this. She’s used to seeing me passed out on a regular basis, even in when she brings friends around late at night. I’m not proud of that but she’s never given me a hard time really. I really want to be able to say that I’ve been sober for quite a while next time I see her. She knows how much of a hard time I gave myself over my drinking, and I want to make her proud and for her to realize  that we can achieve what we think is impossible if we really want to.

I have to thank some key people helping me get this far.A big shout out to my fab husband Ed for just being Ed. What a guy to put up with such a lush the past twenty or so years and to stick by me. Also to my brother who is one of the wisest owls I know and can read me like a book. I don’t have a sister, but I have Jemima who is probably closer to me than a sister could be. She is named after the character from the musical Cats. In the play, she hears the rejected cat Grizabella’s plea and encourages her  and  asks the other cats to see the good in her as they duet on Memory. My Jemima has always tried to get me to see some good in me even when I seemed to hit rock bottom. She has never judged or patronized me, just been an unbelievable tower of strength.

I’m not blogging every day anymore. In the first few days I needed to just to keep myself on track and as another reason not to give in. I guess that was my residential rehab phase so to speak, and now it’s like a bi weekly check-in point as an added safety net. I’m grateful to anyone that reads this, so thank you for popping by! I hope my words help you if you are on a similar journey. I know that the words of others has helped me more than I thought was possible. Here’s to the  next eighteen days. Roll on Day 50!

Cheers!

imageI got ID’d in BevMo this afternoon! It’s been a few years or so since that has happened. It must be my youthful sober skin or my sparkly white eyes…..hang on! What on earth was I doing in BevMo I hear you ask. Or to be more precise, what was I buying that needed ID? Calm down people, I was just buying some Alcohol Free wine, well dealcoholized wine actually. It does have less than 0.05 % alcohol per bottle but that definitely doesn’t count as a proper drink to me. And even though it is virtually AF, you still need to be 21 to buy it.

The white one I am sampling right now tastes rather crap to be honest. It’s Ariel Chardonnay, but could certainly pass for watered down apple juice. But hey, it looks nice, it’s in a fancy glass and it’s a treat as I don’t drink it often. It’s making my Friday feel like a weekend and that’s good enough for me!

Husband Ed is going to drink the bottle of real white wine that has been sitting in the fridge for the past three weeks. I’m not really bothered that it is there, but I’m glad he’s finally going to drink it. It will be the first time that I’ve sat opposite someone drinking wine since I stopped. But it has to be done, and I’d rather it happen when I’m feeling strong. I do secretly hope that he wakes up with a hangover from hell though. How smug will that make me feel? Ha ha! Go for it Ed!

Yappy Hour(s)

imageResult! So two people have commented on my appearance today. One told me I looked nice (and no, they are not blind,) and the other asked me if I’ve lost weight (ok, so they were not wearing their usual glasses…) Normally I would go into work looking knackered and rough as heck, but nobody ever pulled me up over it thank goodness. I always blamed the bags under my eyes on just being an insomniac and having the loudest, yappiest  Westie dog living next door. I mean, who gets a bloody dog and leaves it outside all night and all day to bark, if you can call its high pitched persistent wailing a bark. Erm, yes….I am ever so slightly annoyed by the sodding creature, but more so by it’s selfish and thoughtless owners. How come they can’t hear it I wonder?

Anyway, back to me. Those two compliments have urged me to keep at this no drinking challenge more than ever. Only a selected few know about my personal challenge and to the best of my knowledge, my acquaintances are non the wiser about anything that goes on in my private life, good or bad.

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on the internet over the past two weeks, and the same subject keeps popping up repeatedly. Announcing that you have quit alcohol causes people  to assume you had a huge problem in the first place. They just don’t seem to understand that maybe you just want to be in total control, or want to be super healthy, or just don’t want to bloomin drink just because society expects us to. When I quit smoking, I rarely heard anyone tell me that it’s ok to just smoke when I’m out with friends having a good time or on special occasions. Go on….treat yourself! But if you announce that you have quit drinking, they picture you downing whiskey with your Corn Flakes  at the crack of dawn. I’m not denying that I drank too much too regularly, but this is my own personal challenge to gain control over something I wasn’t happy with. Just like some cut out chocolate or sugar.

In British culture, It really is frowned upon not to get hammered at any occasion, and I was pretty good at it. But besides the hangover next day and feeling tired and rather sick, the paranoia that set in later was the killer for me. It made me sick in a much worse way that was only made better by drinking wine to numb my  mind come evening time. So I’m rebelling against it all and standing by what makes me feel good about myself. I don’t need the wine, I feel strong and in control. I’m happy, I look better. I have not lost weight according to the scales, but I do look less puffy and not so tired. And now if I do go to work looking shite, it really is the yappy dog’s fault. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Stella ?

imageSo I’ve done 14 nights without wine. Yay! I had a really stressful  day today as I had to give a couple of presentations, but I’m so happy because I was able to do them without shaking! Double yay! I’m not saying I shook previously because of drinking, but for whatever reason  I would shake like crazy. I think there are a number of contributing factors why I didn’t shake today, confidence and  having a clear head are just two elements that spring to mind. It made such a difference whatever it was.

I was working until rather late last night getting the presentation ready and in the past I would have taken upon myself to have a nightcap or two or three to relax and help me sleep. Yeah, right!. But last night, although my head was still  in work mode,  I stuck to my guns and had some sparkling water and next thing I knew it was morning, with no hangover!

A couple of weeks ago, I would have treated tonight as a reason to hit the wine big style to celebrate getting through such a day. But quite honestly, there’s no way I want to break how great I feel. Why inflict flu like symptoms on myself when I can feel wonderfully healthy? It’s only been 2 weeks, but I hardly recognize the person I am right now. Stella who?

Hunger games

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Ed and I went on a 5 mile hike today with the dog. It was super nice and by the time we reached home it was later than we thought and we were ravenous. I opened the freezer and started rattling off various things that I could rustle up for dinner. But nothing seemed to appeal to Ed who then suggested going out to eat. I wasn’t too bothered as we really did have some decent food in the  house.

When our hunger gets beyond a certain point, it’s pretty safe to say we both get really argumentative. So we yelled at each other for a bit which always scares the dog, poor thing, and then Ed said that he really wanted to go to Islands the gourmet burger place. When questioned as to why he just didn’t say that in the beginning, he replied that he thought it would be too hard for me because I wasn’t drinking. Bless him!

It was so nice of him to take that into consideration, but I hope he knows now that there is no need to protect me or shelter things from me. I actually do not have a problem going somewhere and not drinking. In reality, when I did drink, I would always limit my public drinking and wait until I was safe at home and then guzzle as much as I wanted.

Tonight was lovely, I ate my burger and its massive calorie load without an ounce of guilt and Ed enjoyed his food and his guilt free beer! Later, we wandered around the rather busy mall. I was surprised to see so many people milling around and hanging out in the comfy outdoor  seating areas. I was always crashed out on the sofa at that time of night. I feel there’s a whole new lifestyle out there that I can now participate in and I can’t wait to go exploring. This sobriety  thing is getting better and better!

Fake Wine

imageJust had a lovely late afternoon on the patio sipping Fre Sparkling Dealcoholized wine or Fake Wine as my son calls it. It is pretty good, rather sweeter than my usual Prosecco, but it felt like a treat and I was still able to cook after finishing the bottle! I don’t think I will make a habit of it, but it’s definitely one to use when we have guests over and I don’t want to get into the whole alcohol free  conversation.

We didn’t make it out for breakfast this morning as I  had hinted at yesterday. Oh well, maybe tomorrow or next weekend. There’s no rush. Plenty of hangover free weekends ahead I think! That’s it for today, off to watch The Danish Girl  with my fruity tea. I like my new Saturdays!