Oh Yes, I Can Do That….

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I’m a creature of habit in many ways. I get up early, walk my dogs, go to work, lunch is always a sandwich, usually a ham salad one on brown that I rustle up as soon as I get in from work. Then I do a really long  walk with my dog beasts, prep a late dinner which is usually kale salad with chicken. Lastly I either read, have a  bath or very occasionally watch Netflix.

That makes me sound incredibly boring, which I really like to think I’m not. I have interests, quite a few of them actually and I’m not sure when I fit them in to my rather fixed schedule, but I do. For the past 6 months it’s been yoga which I squeeze in most days.  I also love to cook and a couple of times a week I will surprise Ed with a restaurant worthy concoction of some kind. It just zaps my mind to think what to cook on a daily basis so I’m happy to ‘do the usual’ if inspiration doesn’t come knocking and I no longer feel guilty for it I be bit!

I also get rather obsessed with certain things. I call them my challenges. My latest one is that I need to learn to play the saxophone. We have a couple of them in the house being rather neglected. The kids used to play them at school. I think it would  be fun to learn enough basics to play a little version of Summertime or the Girl from Ipanema. So challenge accepted. Play the sax? Why yes, I can do that!

But here’s my problem. I lied earlier, I don’t get a little obsessed with such things. They become a compulsion. I think about them night and day. I have a desperate need to challenge myself to become the best that I can be.

I’m sure that has contributed to my sobriety journey. Most people might attempt Dry January to give their bodies a rest or prove to themselves that they don’t have a problem…., but not me. If I’m going to do something, anything, I’m going to hit it full on with all my might and determination. And if I stumble or hit a hurdle, that’s ok. It does not mean I’m defeated. Heck no! It makes me want it even more.

You might think that this sets myself up for failure. And yes, occasionally that bright guiding light has faded quickly, or even been rudely blown out almost immediately. I still can’t play the guitar. The sewing machine is hidden in the back of the closet. I haven’t booked on to that ceramic course that I found and spent hours reading every review written about it. Those are my non starters. And I’m learning that that’s ok. If the passion isn’t there, I can’t really fake it.

Life is too busy and short to spend time on half hearted things when we can channel all our energy in to what ignites our minds and needs. Having my challenges gives me a focus to each day. A reason to wake up and get going. Something to run home from work for. Something to reflect on at the end of the day and know that I have learned or achieved something that I wasn’t able to do before.

I’m trying to be the best version of me. I’m tired of looking back with regret. I can dwell on my mistakes and beat myself with shame for my past failures and obnoxious drunken antics or I can focus on being a proud, shiny, happy me. Right here, right now.

Right, off to practice my splits now.

Stella x

 

 

Thank God I Got Shit Faced Last Night – said no one ever….

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I had 7 hours and 34 minutes of blissful uninterrupted sleep last night according to my Fitbit. That’s crazy!

When I drank, I would average some pathetic amount like 5 hours, sometimes less, every single night. And it showed. It showed big style with slitty puffy eyes and gray skin and a permanent confused look upon my heavily aged face.

Now I wake feeling refreshed and  reenergized and of course it’s reflected in the mirror. Still no oil painting though!

I wake up grateful that I didn’t drink the night before. I congratulate myself on making a great choice. But that got me thinking…. I don’t think anyone ever wakes up saying how grateful they are for getting shit faced last night. Unless they are still drunk…. just wait for it…. it will come at them like a wrecking ball on steroids.

I’m going to make a note of that one to use if a craving hits. Seriously, if I could buy something that would guarantee me the night’s sleep I just had, I would. But the crazy part is I can get it for free, like magic if I just don’t pour that crap down my neck. It’s a no brainer for sure. But sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of us. Especially if our eyes look like pee holes in the snow!

If you are reading this and struggling with  strong cravings, be kind to yourself. Please try to give yourself just one night off to let your body truly rest. It will thank you for it and you will get a glimpse of what you are entitled to every morning if you allow it.

It really is a beautiful thing.

Stella x

 

Lists, Lists, Lists

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Day 10 of my current sober journey. It feels great, people! It really does. Since the weekend, the cravings and nostalgia have been minimal and the good vibes have definitely been at the forefront.

Im off work for 5 weeks for summer break and with hindsight, I think the thought of having time on my hands and no boundaries made me nervous. It’s much easier to be on ‘best behavior’ when  I know there are early mornings or work next day. Not that they made a blind bit of difference back in the day, but even I have learned that by now. Hey, I’m finally thinking like an adult at 48 years of age!

As I’ve mentioned before, I keep a daily journal on my phone each morning and night, (but it’s no big deal if I forget!) I add day #, date and weight for some reason. I’m not huge, never have been, but I did manage to grow a rather big spare tire around my midriff when I was drinking heavily. In my defense, it might be genetic, my dad has always looked 10 months pregnant and he doesn’t really drink a thing. But when I stopped for a spell in 2015, (I lasted 5 months,) I used getting rid of the built in floaty as a challenge. It worked! And I’ve found that if I take a diversion from my sober path, it inflates again.

It’s not just drink that does it, I’ve noticed that if I drink a fair bit, I crave shitty food next day. I need greasy, comforting,  cheesy, bready, salty type foods. And lots of it. So if I break one cycle, I break the whole vicious thing. Win, win! I put that in the simplest, easiest and unrealistic way I could. If only it was as easy as snapping your fingers. But it’s not impossible if you really set your mind to it, and having my daily record as evidence was truly inspirational as results come at you pretty fast if you are strict with yourself.

I guess I’m competitive and like to challenge myself. Tell me I can’t do something, and I will instantly set out to prove you wrong. However, I run out of steam, or the reason gets foggy as I don my rose tinted spectacles and I eventually fall out of lust with my  new found lifestyle. So now I include in my notes clear reasons and comparisons.

Here’s a sample… I’ve not edited it. It’s rough and ready and written when I was in the midst of cognitive dissonance…

PRO

CONS

Sleep

No sleep, sweats,

Calm

Anxiety

Normal nerves

Shakes/speech

Heartbeat

High pulse

Functionality

Waste of space

Happy

Suicidal

Nothing to be gained.

One fixes nothing or  makes anything feel greater.

Never happy with one.

Why add to temptation.

One increases heart rate and anxiety.

Why float to just drop like a rock?

Play it forward.

Crap sleep.

Anxiety

Shakes.

Bloating.

Pretty deep, right! Whatever it is, it helps. Every time I hear something that makes me glad to be on my sober path, I write it down. We forget these things, like we forget bad pains… child birth and stonking  hangovers. But we go back and do it again.

I’m taking my dogs to the beach today. That’s something I would never contemplate doing with a raging hangover. It makes me feel good to have a few things to achieve each day. Again, I write them in my phone and check them off, even mundane things like ‘clean the kitchen floor’ and ‘descale the kettle.’ There’s something good about seeing your achievements clock up and cross them off.  I could never do that when I’m the midst of deep anxiety and paranoia with a throbbing head.

It feels good. I feel good. And yes, right now, it is all about me. I’m being kind to myself. I hope you try it,

Stella x

 

Let’s Chat….

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Oh my! Those pink clouds are looking mighty fine today! Always a sign that it’s going to be a good day. I didn’t make it to 5:30am yoga, but I offered it as a choice to my body and it chose not to go. Seriously, not trying to be arty farty, I really did wait to see if I woke up naturally. If so, I’d go. If not, no big deal. I have an evening class I’m going to anyway. And my body has no choice on that!

I had no alcohol cravings yesterday, but then again, I’m in those pretty clouds. Im learning to enjoy them but be a little on guard. It’s so easy to cave when the main horrors of drinking wear off and become a tad foggy. “Heck, you weren’t  that bad. Everyone gets a bit hammered now and again. It’s normal! “ But that’s not exactly what I was doing…

Pre April 2016, I would put away at least a bottle of red every night. More like 1.5-1.75. I would wake on the couch at 3:00am  like a horror movie version of Cinderella gone wrong. I would go to work, looking like absolute shit. People would do double takes at how rough I looked. Even store checkout staff would comment on how tired I looked. Oh the shame!

I stopped, cold turkey just  like that on April 5th 2016. I did it with the support of many people who I have never met and never will. Online resources are amazing. Soberistas was a god send, quit lit and forums and just knowing I wasn’t the only one fighting this was the best realization ever.

I received mixed emotions from friends. I’m a Brit living in California, been here since 2004. Since then, I quit my 40 a day smoking habit and now the booze. Here, people don’t bat an eyelid. Everyone is trying to better themselves in some shape or form, physically, mentally or emotionally. Everyone is on some restrictive diet or other. It’s just no big deal to treat your body how you choose to. I love that!

But the Brits! Oh man! What on earth did I set myself up for…. “Quit drinking? Like, nothing? Not even at weekends or special occasions? What happened? Something bad must have happened. It’s not normal to not drink.”

My responses? They were good actually! I told them I was trying to lose weight and be healthy. I thought about using all the old gems of being on medication, driving, etc, but at the end of the day, I’m a crap liar. Actually, I take that back, I’m pretty good at telling stories but I kind of get carried away and then I start believing them, but that’s a whole other story. I don’t think they believed my honest version though, They still think I must have been sent ‘somewhere’ by a doctor or got into trouble. They don’t have to stop drinking. That’s really extreme. That’s what alcoholics have to do. But who gives a shit. This is about me. They can do whatever they like…. I’m fine with that. Just wished it worked the other way!

I have mostly stayed on my little wagon since then and loved it. I stumbled at 2 years. Just the odd sip of my husbands wine now and again. Not secretly, just taste testing, and testing myself I realize now. But I would hop back on and it didn’t amount to much until I went on an all inclusive very fancy vacation in the Caribbean. It was so far removed from real life and I just let myself go. I was pretty good actually. Wine with lunch, a cocktail  in the evening and more wine with dinner, but by the last couple of days, I was looking for a green light to crack open wine on the beach at 10:00am. On my last day, I drank the mini bar dry, only vaguely remember the journey to the airport. I was wearing a fucking crown! Who does that? Oh, and I told the bar staff when I was on a 30 minute countdown for the taxi to keep my glass topped up at all times while I necked glass after glass like a true lady, wearing the afore mentioned crown. Cringe.

That was my big rebellion to sobriety. I did hop back on my wagon after, but it was noticeably harder than the previous time. But because I had done it, and seemed to survive it, it led to a few more green light occasions. Christmas, god I love Prosecco for breakfast. That’s what Christmas is for! Yay!

I could do that, reign it in and abstain after a couple of days of hell. Then I found Annie Grace. My hero. When is the queen going to knight her or further still, make her the queen! This Naked Mind and the 30 Day Alcohol Challenge was life changing. It was easy! She’s to drinking what Allen Carr is to smoking. Just brilliant!

But then my brother and his family came to stay for two weeks and we drove  to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. That’s not real life, deja vu,…. you get it.

And that brings me to here. It’s just too hard playing this switching sides game and having the inner battle. I don’t drink in public, rarely drink at home, but take me out of
my real life situation and I think it’s ok. But the battle after is pretty huge and teary and ugly. I’m tired of it. So here I am making the choice to never want or need to drink again.

I’m going to see my Brit friends next week. I will also attend a festival for a day with them. Can’t wait for the next day. I’m sure they won’t be so judging of me then! Hop on my pink cloud to make your hangovers better my friends! Lots of room up here! Smug? Moi? Hell yes!

 

Hop and a Skip

86228828-7DBB-4045-AA0A-B315F82DD32CAm I even the same person who was crippled with alcohol cravings and sorrow just three days ago? Thank you to whoever waved a magic wand on my mood. It worked!

Yesterday was a further step above Saturday’s cravings. I even sat outside for our evening bbq until 10:00 pm. Just in time before a cloud of mosquitos came and feasted on Ed while he sipped his beers. That will teach him!

This morning I got up early and went to my new yoga class. I bought a Groupon, because that’s how I do my yoga memberships. A month here, a month there, because those things are so bloody expensive! Give me a deal for $30 unlimited for  a month, and no, I don’t want to stay and give you $250 per month even though I’ve kind of fallen in love with you all. It’s not you, it’s me… I have commitment issues…

Anyway, it was great even though I was the worst in the class. But I’ve learned that it’s not a competition or about anyone else. But I’m so going to practice like mad and show them a few tricks by the end of the month. Even if I don’t have fancy yoga pants and trendy tattoos. Challenge accepted yogi bitches!

Maybe my head is stuck in those pink clouds that I’ve been in before. They are so lovely. They are like candy floss. Smooth and airy and bubbly and sweet and life is just wonderful and I love everyone and all I want to do is make sure that life is good for one and all.  I shake my head with a smile on my face at people honking their horns. “Chill our people, life is good! Be here, right now, let the past go… “ A world apart from the woman who just last Friday was muttering “Fuck you, fuckers. “ to everyone who dared to come within a hundred feet from me.

I’m not entirely sure that this is purely alcohol related. Maybe I have a personality disorder. It has crossed my mind before, but I’ve got to nearly 50 years of age this way, and I’m sure I can do a few more without causing too much trouble. At least I keep those around me on their toes!

So I’m off to enjoy the rest of my beautiful pink skied day in sunny California with a skip and a hop and a bounce in my stride.

Adios heavenly humans, take a chill pill, life is good, pick the flowers and listen to the birds. Xxxxxxxx

 

Not as Wobbly….

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Yesterday was day 5 and it was a million times better than the previous day. I kept a note update on my phone at various points of the day for clarity and as a reminder should I ever need it. I do that often actually, but when going through my old notes yesterday, I couldn’t find anything I’d written that resembled the horrific cravings I had on Friday.

Now that I’m in a calmer state, I think it was a particularly bad day because I knew and had accepted that this should be the final time I restart. It’s just too hard to step back on it after giving yourself the go ahead and drink. This is my point of no return.

The worst time of the day for me is early evening when I’m home. It seems like time just freezes into ultra slow motion and instead of winding down, I’m faced with a severe up hill struggle.

Dont get me wrong, for the first two years of my fabulous sobriety, I felt amazing! The first couple of weeks were rather shitty and I was on full alert and very best behavior with myself. But it quickly disappeared and I enjoyed the best mornings and the evenings added a whole new chunk of time to my day as I wasn’t crashed out drunk. I found new hobbies, realized stores were open late and there was a whole world out there after sunset that was fun, entertaining and sober!  So if you are new to this, don’t despair! It is so rewarding, but trying it round 2 or more gets harder each time.

Yesterday I wrote a few things down so if the evening went tits up, I had options already in place. Walk dogs, cook, yoga, read, watch tv, play my instrument, bath or WTDO (Write The Day Off.) But I was ok, not brilliant, but  ok. I walked my dogs, watched tv, sat outside to eat ( huge trigger…. warm sunny evening, fire pit going, bbq lit…. but I knew I had to do it and knew I’d survive it and that in itself would be a massive hurdle cleared. Then I cried, took a bath and WTDO.

WTDO was used many times in the last 3 years and I understand now it’s not just s drinking thing. Sometimes, I get so wound up and I just don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t seem to have a release valve. That’s when I would turn to drink in the old days, to numb it all out. Ha! Great choice…. said no hungover person ever.

I’ve been looking for blogs and stories that address relapse and the early days of getting back on track, but just couldn’t find something that connected to me. I’m relearning something I’ve successfully done before. I am training myself to ride a bike again. It’s s very different mindset because you know you can do it. You know it’s possible. You know the rewards are humongous. You know you can be amazing at it, but it takes ALL your strength and will power. But I’m hoping the uphill part is more short lived than the first time. Soon I will be zooming around on my speedy bike as if I’ve never been off it!

Anyway, I have s whole day ahead of me. I think it’s going to be a good one!

Stella x

Relapse

 

7911B3F1-4A0C-45E5-8D73-034F7E81676CIt’s been a while! Had 2 years of sobriety under my belt and then we all lived happily ever after…. The End.  Except this is real life and as you’ve probably heard a million others say, I felt safe  and in control enough to give myself permission to moderate. I have to be honest, it wasn’t horrendous, but giving myself that amber light to stop and start is not as wonderful as one would think.

Getting back on the train after hopping off at the platform takes willpower of steel. You don’t just hop back on and enjoy the ride. You sit on that bloody train with the doors shut while it moves at 2 miles per hour with its engine struggling and it’s body screeching like it needs a damn good oiling in every nook and cranny.

So here I am back on day 5 after stopping at a good few platforms. I now know that it’s much easier to not even dabble, it’s so much harder to be thinking about it and dealing with the inner battle in my head. “Go on… you will be fine!” “No don’t! You’ve come this far…” “But you’ve come this far, so you know you can control it. It’s not like you will go back to how you were…”

Truth is, I just don’t want to think about drinking so removing it is my  only option.

Yesterday, day 4, I was in a foul mood and so pissed off with humans in general. All of the fuckers, even nice ones. All I wanted to do was sit in the garden on my own and get shit faced so I  could be in my own little world. Strange thing is, I’d been to a work social happy hour to celebrate the end of the work year. They were all pretty tipsy, and I had no problem with that and absolutely no desire to join in or envy that they could. My problems began when I got home.

I guess I’ve not drank in public for over 3 years so that’s just not something I do anymore. But in my own home, my safe haven, I can do what I like and yesterday I just really wanted to visit my own world.

I cried. I told my lovely but baffled  husband Ed. He had no idea what to do or say and whatever he said was wrong because he’s human and I was hating on all humans.

It took all my strength to get from 5pm to 9pm where I finally felt I could write the day off and go to bed. I googled how to survive cravings, but just couldn’t find the help I needed. I listened to Bubble Hour, read Annie Grace who is my new hero. But nothing helped me yesterday. I had to ride it through and it was horrid and scary and painful and I NEVER WANT TO PUT MYSELF IN THAT POSITION AGAIN.

Phew, yelling feels good! So, it’s  a permanent red light to drinking for me. It’s a green light to freedom and choice and clear thoughts and sleep.

I just needed to write this. If it helps anyone through any point of early or long term sobriety that’s great. It helped me to say it and that’s all I need.

I will write again tomorrow to tell that hopefully today was a better day.  Trying to be kind to myself, I’m a bit delicate right now but know deep down that this is all part of the journey.

Stella x

 

 

18 Months AF

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18 months without alcohol!   That’s almost 550 mornings. Beautiful mornings when I wake up and be proud of myself each day. No headaches, shame, or anxiety.  Those mornings have kept me going through the toughest of days and strongest cravings, even if it meant going to bed at 7:00pm to make the morning come faster.

I’m celebrating today. Not sure how yet. I might take myself out to lunch, or go and watch a movie. To me it’s so important to celebrate my sobriety in some way. I did this. I chose a different way and it wasn’t easy. Treating myself forces me to recognize that I’ve made big changes and keeps me going until the next milestone.

To anyone out there thinking about an AF life or in the early part of the journey, it really is a beautiful thing. I honestly can’t imagine what would make me want to go back to guzzling a bottle and a half of wine (or more) every night, and I never thought I would say that! I’d miss my lovely mornings so much! Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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…💋