The Joy of being Sober

The Unexpected Joy of being Sober by Catherine Gray

I remember getting it out of the library a couple of years ago. Why do I remember it if I didn’t read it. The cover. A bird flying away from an open cage. I wasn’t ready to be sober then. I requested the book about 4 months ago again. The queue was long. It’s my turn to read it. And I am loving it. It is exactly what I need to read now. I am two weeks shy of being sober 6 months. I know I said I didn’t count the days. I don’t on a daily basis. I’m lucky enough not to need to do it. But 6 months is a milestone. And Catherine Gray’s book is right on schedule to read now. And talk about a popular book. That alone should tell you of the numbers of people wishing to quit drinking and becoming sober. A good thing. Being sober truly is a joy.

Far from finished but I am so enjoying her book. My theme for this year, 2019, for me is care. She mentioned that when we are drunk or thinking about the next drink we are not taking care of ourselves or those around us, our lives or our homes. Admittedly I looked after my cats better than I did myself. Catherine mentions to treat yourself like a toddler. To care for myself, is like relearning all over again. My self care routine was nonexistent. I am learning to be kind to myself. I have quietened the boozy angry bitchy evil voice, the one that treated me worse than an enemy would. I listen to my inner voice now, the kind one, the gentle one, the compassionate one. She is teaching me to be kind to myself again.

Compassion starts at home and is an active daily practice. It is not on a to do list and ticked off, it is something to be repeated and done every day. It doesn’t end. It is a regular action done daily. It is a habit. A good one. Self compassion or self love is a necessary act for one to feel whole. When this practice of self compassion becomes natural and regular then the compassion of/for others flows naturally. Let’s make it contagious.

I love being sober. I do not want to try to be a moderate drinker. I don’t want to drink again. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. Alcohol was a shackle not a crutch said Catherine Gray.

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Perimenopause, sober and a twist of lime

I thought I had perimenopause* under control. I thought the hot flashes and night sweats were in the past. It appears not. Mood swings are gone thank goodness. Something is happening and the body is malfunctioning again. Perhaps menopause is knocking on my door?

Insomnia is something of the past now. So thankful of that. I am able to sleep like I used to and be asleep within quarter of an hour. Insomnia was the one thing that screwed me up when I stopped drinking. It was hard to deal with. I got through it. And now I make sure to get to bed before midnight.

Oversleeping is what I am doing now. Can you ever have too much sleep? Is it because of perimenopause? Change of season? Depression? Don’t know. It is an observation.

One thing I did last month dealing with self care was to buy better bed sheets. Liked them so much I bought a second set of the same ones. Duvet cover got changed too. I donated my old ones to the clothing bin. So maybe I have made the bedroom too comfortable? Nooo. I don’t really think that.

Flannelette sheets for May, prodding at a roaring fires and rolling in fluffy bed sheets. The joys of winter are dressing warmly and stomping about in lined boots, hot stews and endless cups of tea. Cats curled up next to me. Hats, gloves and visible breath. Admittedly it doesn’t get cold enough for most of the above but it would be nice to have a snow day. Dreaming out loud. Might just have to have a Christmas holiday somewhere cold and enjoy snowy weather and walk away back to summer.

(Note*: for those whom are wondering the difference between perimenopause and menopause: Perimenopause comes before menopause. Perimenopause is the transition stage when the menstrual period comes irregularly and sometimes not at all. When the period is absent for longer than one year then you have entered into menopause.) As for post-menopause, I haven’t looked into that yet. Not sure what that is. Dealing with enough of the perimenopause for now.

Ramp light Green

Driving in heavy traffic is a breeze for me. I have driven all over the world and Auckland traffic is nothing compared to Tokyo, Barcelona, LA or London. In New Zealand when getting onto the motorway there is a traffic light and during peak times the lights are working, a sign say “Ramp light on.” The lights alternate between green and red to stagger the merging cars and make the motorway flow smoothly.

I feel like my ramp light is green. Green for ‘go.’

Made the bed. Had brunch. Went to the gym. Went to the supermarket. Bought fruit and vegetables. Bought one sweet item. Haribo gummy bears. They have already been consumed. Told you the ramp light was green. I did lots of little jobs that I had planned to do last week but didn’t. They are now done. Told you I like Mondays.

I am starting a digital declutter this May. Let me explain what I mean. I am going to stop mindlessly scrolling on my phone or on the computer or any device and better use my time for non-connected pursuits and time for solitude. I read the book Digital Minimalism and I am going to try it for the month long declutter. It doesn’t mean 100% not touching an app, a phone or looking at a website. You get to choose what you give up. You write it down and ideally stick to it. And at the end of the month hiatus you introduce back into your life what you deem beneficial to your life.

One example is streaming services such as Netflix, HBO or Amazon. I watch too much. Binge watching is a thing. I am not cutting it out completely I am making it a social time. If I watch a streaming service it must be with someone else, not alone. Also in one sitting I will limit myself to 2 episodes if a series or to 1 film.

I have written out a list of what I will not use, what I can use with caveats. I’m sure some tweaking will need to be done as situations arise. The point is to continue with important digital aids that allow you to work, function without losing your job, your life. This is not Extreme Digital Declutter in the Wilds with no cellphone service. I am not holing up in a cabin in the woods for the month. I am home and giving myself the freedom to choose or not choose.

I am treating this as a fun exercise. It is done by choice. It should get me back to pursuits that I ‘don’t have time for’ when really I do. Wish me luck.

I have started already by removing notifications from my phone. I have unsubscribed to mailing lists. I have banned myself from various websites that I glance at and then wonder why I am still there half an hour later.

3:59pm Good Friday

Just to be extra clear: Don’t feel like drinking alcohol. Never really have since I stopped. Maybe once or twice in the early days because I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. Nobody does. It wasn’t hard. It wasn’t the end of the world. It was the beginning.

Today and this week or month I have been feeling out of sorts with myself.

Not drinking allows me to see, find and be myself in the raw. I am finding it hard just to get out of bed these days. Why? Don’t know. Change of season?

I have gotten out of the habit of self care or care in general. How did I get this way so quickly? I have no idea.

In no way shape or form does the idea to drink enter my head. For that I am grateful. I don’t feel ever like taking that route ever again.

Depression is settling in. I have let it in somehow. I recognise it and yet I feel helpless to help myself. I feel like a witness to something happening yet it is me it is happening to. A witness observes and is impartial to the event, yet it is me that it is happening to and I feel immune to do anything about it to improve my situation. I can see it happening. I can feel it happening. Yet I do nothing.

I cannot help myself. The desire is there. But the effort is not there. The house has gone downhill. It is chaos. My cleanliness is doubtful. I am not eating my best meals. My cats are looked after better than me. I put them first. There is no neglect there. Just neglect of myself.

How can I write I have been wondering, if I cannot help myself? Ridiculous thoughts really. I should realise that it the depression talking and not the real me. How have I fooled myself so many times?

Lately (this year) I have felt so strong with dealing with depression, noticing when it comes on and how it comes in. I felt more knowledgeable about depression. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I might have gotten cocky. It appears so. I have been put in my place. Depression isn’t to be conquered, it is to be dealt with and lived with. It is not to be treated lightly and with superiority. Depression will put you on your arse swiftly if you mock it or think light of it.

I am on my arse.

Today I felt able to write about it. That is something. Perhaps things are on their way up after all.

Damn shame to Admiration

I remember many years ago a friend of mine had to quit drinking because of a medical condition. When he told me all I could think about was what a shame that was and all the drinking he was missing out on. I felt pity for him. I really did.

Wind forwards to today and I look back at the moment through a different lens now. Admiration for him is all I feel. He told me honestly and openly and upfront about his condition and that it must involve being sober from then on in. I admire his forthrightness, his openness, his sharing of personal things and his strength and positivity of being sober. He was fitter and healthier looking.

I know for each person the reasons for being sober are different. The point of when that timing occurs is unique. However the positive benefits that surround a person when they make that decision an everyday reality are limitless.

Decisions are hard to make at the best of times. When it is made at the same time as someone else it makes it easier. DH and I became sober at the same time. I feel grateful every single day. I certainly wish I had been brave enough to stop drinking sooner. But again time tells and last year was my time to follow through on that thought.

At the beginning I thought I would give alcohol a rest for a while, however long that would be, three months, a year. It felt like a break, a rest, a sojourn. As time went on I realised all the hype of difficulty was false. The decision was difficult. The action required after that was easy. Sober living is definitely a more present lifestyle. My sojourn from alcohol will be for the rest of my life. I appreciate my life that much. I am worth it.

I don’t consider myself an alcoholic. I don’t consider myself recovering either. I don’t drink is all. I am sober. And I love being sober.

POSITIVE GAINS:
More money
More confidence
More time
More freedom
More clarity
More ideas
More freedom
More active
Better decisions
Better sleep (this took 4 months but was worth the patience
Less to almost no anxiety

NEGATIVE EFFECTS:
None

All I did was stop drinking. I didn’t do anything. Actually that’s not true. I made a decision and followed through with it. I’m grateful for that. One of my best decisions ever.

Long thin blue ones

If you are tired of reading about finger nails stop right now, if however you are intrigued by my overenthusiastic reaction then read on…

Stopping alcohol has opened up a brand new world for me. Anxiety and stress dropped away. There was no more wondering am I drinking too much, if I have another one will anyone notice? Or I’ll stock up on wine this week because it’s on special knowing full well that the stock wouldn’t last the weekend. There is none of this thought to clutter the mind today. All that tiring thinking about the next drink, the next happy hour, the next occasion, is all gone. It is not missed at all. And I worried that it really would have been. How wrong I was.

I no longer spend all this time thinking about alcohol and then next glass. I no longer spend my money on this obsession. I no longer spend money on the food and transportation that goes with said drinks. Because there is no remorse on what was said the night before, there is no hangover, there is no forgotten gap in the previous evening. All is remembered. There is no worry about how am I getting home, I can drive myself. The anxiety and stress has been fleeing my body and the upside is enormous.

The upside of sober life is long nails. Here she goes again. I know. And I don’t apologise for it either. Long nails for me represents lost anxiety, hidden self confidence that has finally reared its head. Long nails are a symbol of strength for me. Now if you are imagining those nails which are inches and inches long that is not me or what I am talking about. If you imagined bitten nails, erase that and bite and chew more off and the surrounding skin. Gross. Embarrassing. That was me. I was carrying around with me the visable armour of the defeated, the downtrodden. I hid my hands whenever possible. I would always ball my hands into a fist so my nails were hidden. I couldn’t partake in conversations because I wasn’t privy to the ins and outs of the nail world. I was stuck behind anxiety and low self esteem. Now my nails are not the inches and inches long that you imagined, but they are an ordinary length. They blend in with the crowd now. For that I grateful. I am part of the painted nails brigade and I like it. I have missed out on this frivolousness until now and I intend to make up for lost time and have fun with it. I really do. I don’t even know how to file my nails properly. Youtube will be handy. I have ordered nail paraphernalia to look after them well.

Each time I change my nail colour, file, buff, paint or moisturise my nails I will be practising gratitude for the courage that I had to stop drinking. For others it may not be much at all, but for me it is huge. A leap in the right direction. Life is made up of little moments and now I will be spending my time thinking of what shade next.

This follows along with my theme for this year: Care. Part of my routine now involves the care of my finger and toe nails. Oh what fun we will have!

Today’s sober treat: a long hot soak in the bath tub with Epsom salts and a book.

Sunday Rebel

Sober, grateful and embracing life. Insomnia is now a thing of the past. Going to bed at a reasonable hour now. I has been a long four months to get my sleep under control. All is well. Side affect of being sober: long nails.
These new nails are a treat. They keep tripping me up in unexpected moments. The keyboard is a new domain. Doing up buttons, putting hands in pockets, feeling the earth. All of it feels new and weird. Honestly this is the first time to have long natural nails in my whole entire life. I am not making this up. This is one gift I have unexpectedly received from being sober. I have bought nail polish! I went and had a manicure done. I painted my nails today. Colour Rebel, a beautiful pale blue shimmery colour. Beautiful. I must admit one hand it better than the other. Practice will improve this over time. I had to redo three fingers on my left hand. I rubbed them on something before they were dry.

Patience is what I have learnt about long nails. I have waited for fifty years for long beautiful natural nails. I never gave up hope. I might have lost hope at times, even been jealous of others. The goal seemed so far out of my reach that it was like looking through thick bulletproof glass to something untouchable, unobtainable. When I was thinking about being sober the nails crept up on me while I wasn’t watching.

Long nails aren’t just long nails. They are my new found confidence. They are a symbol of tossed aside anxieties. They are so much more than painted nails. Forgive me as I go on about them. For me they are a huge achievement. Striding along the right path makes all the difference. I am clearly walking in the right direction.

Sober treat: Painted my nails, colour REBEL by Zoya (Pale shimmery blue)

Rain of the rooftop

It rained yesterday and the day before yesterday for the first time in ages. I swore I was going to sit outside in the rain but I chickened out and danced inside instead. The simple joy of hearing the rain on the roof, what a joy it was.

Noticing the little things is one of life’s simple pleasures.

One of my cats sits with his head out the cat door staring at the rain. His body sitting nicely inside appearing headless. Watching rain fall is soothing, magical and mesmurising. My cat mindfully appreciates the rain. Isn’t he clever? I have so much to learn from him

I love the sound the rain makes as it falls on the roof. The sound of it gurgling down the down-pipe. The stillness in the air. The cicadas quiet. The smell of parched soil gulping their share of water and then some. The dampness in the air. A dropping of the temperature. The need to wear socks again after months of bare feet. The peaceful feeling of being blanketed by rain when inside the house. I love the rain.

Friday I dashed through the rain dodging puddles without an umbrella off to my appointment. I felt like I was five again. I walked slowly as I crossed the street reveling in the raindrops as they landed on my body. I got wet. I didn’t mind one little bit.

What did you notice today?

Kick The Drink…Easily

Kick The Drink…Easily by Jason Vale
Book Review 5/5

Commonsense, straight forward, repetitive in a logical way. Dispels the myths of drinking and encourages the mindset to embrace freedom rather than recovery. Jason Vale is known for his juicing books but I just stumbled upon him with a recommendation from where I don’t remember anymore.So glad I did.

My final drink was over three months ago. So why am I reading this now? It’s a popular book and I was on the waiting list at the library. In every book about alcohol you can gain something positive from it surely. This book has it in bucketfuls.

Not a quick read. I mean it makes you think. You will want to go away and linger over a point. Mull it. Pun intended. And then go back to it. It is not a light read, like a summer novel. I didn’t finish it in one sitting. It took me a week. Unusual for me. It’s an important read. It was for me.

Jason’s style is one you will either run with or despise. He repeats himself, on purpose, to hammer in the importance of his points. As he says alcohol is the mostly widely available, accepted and legal drug in the world. It will not be going away anytime soon. The alcohol industry is a behemoth and all that tax goes to the governments so pulling the plug on that won’t be happening. And besides if we are told no, don’t we want it even more?

This book reinforces the belief that no willpower is required to becoming a non-drinker. I attest to that. The decision to not drink alcohol is a difficult one because we fear it will be difficult. That fear is unfounded. Not drinking is easy. Or it was for me. The decision not to drink was difficult. Fear stopped for ages. That fear was unfounded.

The world for me is newly exciting. I have found confidence, joy, more money in the bank and freedom without alcohol. The advantages are countless. The disadvantages none.

I am running with it, this new found freedom. I am not waiting for something to happen to me. I am living life. I no longer have hangovers. I can drive myself anywhere at anytime. I don’t compare my drinking habits with others. I don’t count my drinks. I don’t count my days not drinking. I am free of it all. It feels good. I feel good.

If you are thinking about taking your last drink or have already taken your last drink you will enjoy this book. Perhaps you wonder what the fuss is all about and are just curious. That’s what started you drinking in the first place. Don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself and make your own mind up.

I am no longer counting…

I am no longer counting the days I am sober. My milestone was 90 days and I am past that now. Am I pleased with myself? Absolutely. Will I remember the one year anniversary when it rolls round later this year? Absolutely. However I will no longer counting my days. Why not? I am free of alcohol. I am not sentenced to 90 days or 6 months sober. I am free of the drug alcohol. I am not deprived by not drinking. I am gaining life. For that I am thankful and grateful.

Kick The Drink…Easily! by Jason Vale.

Just started reading the book and it makes a lot of sense.

Counting days is great if you are counting down, waiting excitedly for a joyous occasion. Those are good counts. Could be a birthday, an anniversary, a new family member, a graduation, a new job, a wedding, or a driver’s license.

Counting up is like wrapping yourself around the anchor of the poison. Instead of releasing yourself you are chaining yourself to the ball of poison. How many links away am I now? 90 links? No matter how far away you are you are still linked to the poison. Today I am breaking that bond.

I was using the website Living Sober to count and would check in every so often and check out the counter there to see how I was doing. Did I need to? No. I knew how I was doing without needing to check. I wanted a number. The bigger the the number the better. I don’t need a number anymore. I am thankful and grateful I don’t drink.

My trainer wheels are off. I am walking on my own two feet. I no longer have to say, one, two, to myself, as I step. I’ve got this.

Back to reading and the garden.

Aren’t I a hypocrite. Didn’t I say I wasn’t counting but then in the very next sentence I say 90 days? I’m confused.
I’m not. This is my logic. It all makes perfect sense. I am linking myself to a date in time. I am not linking myself with a length of time. A length of time takes more calculation and consideration to add up. Whereas a date in time is just that, a date. I am simplifying my life. See, that makes a whole lot of sense, right?