Day 46

Went to the gym, the supermarket and then the library. Had a whole food brunch of toasted muesli, fresh mango with milk after getting home.
Froze the leftover mangoes, 29c each. Very cheap. Bought five.
Froze the pomegranate arils from two pomegranates.
Bought vegetables, fruit and fish.
I have lost 3 kilograms since becoming sober. That is without trying.
I am adding new food into my life. I am not banishing food as such. I am making better choices. That’s it really.
Today is a good day.
Listening to WBGO while I organise the kitchen bench. Late night jazz is much better than day time jazz. This afternoon it sounds like elevator music. I could go for another station but it’s like a comfortable coat. Snug.

I have scaled back my mini habits to the recommended FOUR. I have placed the other three into another category. I am learning to be kind to myself.

I appreciate the supportive comments as I embark on this journey of mine. I feel light in the fact that there are so many hands helping me along the way. I have many book recommendations from readers also. Thank you. My list to read is getting longer. I am starting on a new one, Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

5:30am and the sun is coming up and I am going to sleep. My neighbour’s light was on. Early to rise, early to bed. I wish that were me. Eventually I will get back to that. Exercise, better food, sober, mostly caffeine free. I am not after a quick fix. I am after a better lifestyle. I love the changes I am making. Proper sleeping hours will come back. I used to drop off to sleep so quickly. Patience.

My cats look happy and confident. They are spoilt rotten. Rescued brother and sister, they arrived scared and wide eyed over a year ago. They are growing up. They always make sure to nap within sight of me. One of them loves to sleep on woven supermarket bags. Simple tastes. On top of or inside, she doesn’t mind. Right now they are outside exploring the jungle of the backyard. Bird watching or roof climbing I presume.


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Recommendations

For those who have gone before me: Do you have a book, film, YouTube video or other to recommend for me to read or view about Alcohol Addiction or Recovery?

I am adding to my blog page “Library” as I find nuggets of information.

What would you suggest I add? What made an impact on you?

The World is Flat

My world is flat but I’m hanging on for dear life because I think I’m going to fall off. I’m anxious on the edge. One more wobble and I’ll drop away into the abyss. Liquid is oozing from the tear ducts of my eyes. I feel uneasy. I feel hungry for no reason. An insatiable appetite. This healthy new life I am sliding into does fit. It feels like a size S whereas I am an XL.

Breathe.

Nothing good will come from this. This feeling of despair. I haven’t felt like this in a while. The pink cloud has burst. Was it even there? It is raining inside and out. I know that this feeling will pass. I shouldn’t be holding on. I should be facing the rain with my head held high. Catching the droplets. Letting them run down my face mixing with my tears. The rain will pass and so will this feeling.

In this middle of this feeling of despair and hopelessness it is hard to find the door let alone an umbrella to stop the rain falling. The point is not to stop the rain falling but to wait it out. Let it pass. The sun will come out again. Be patient.

Breathe.

I’m trying to run when I should be walking and resting. Too much too fast. I’m trying to get to the finish line when there is no race to begin with. There is no one to compete with, only myself. The point is the journey. Mind the way. Mind each step.

Breathe.Who gives a f^(k? I do. I have been a faithful drinker for thirty five years. I have dedicated all these years to the God of Drink. I have been to worship most evenings. Some longer sessions other days with naught. God of Drink whispered continued worship when I was unfaithful. I have turned my back on Drink and all of it’s realm. I no longer say Hail to God of Drink. My back is turned. The bubble has burst. I see God of Drink for what it is: Poison.

It’s hard to change religions. Perhaps I am in mourning? Saying goodbye.

This new thing called Sober. It’s uncomplicated. It’s direct. It doesn’t lie. It is open. It is supportive. It’s inclusive. It’s caring. It is forgiving. It believes in me. I’m not used to all this. This loving gooey-ness. I feel like I don’t deserve all this. Stupid thought. That last one. I know it is but I think it anyway. A remnant from the past. I love Sober.

I write to understand myself. I type to understand myself. It helps a lot. There is much to write. There are thoughts to deal with. It helps to put pen to paper. It feels good to hold onto something physical. Typing on a keyboard although therapeutic at times there remains a disconnect. It’s digital. You aren’t writing the letters longhand. There are no cross outs, no ink stains, no smears. There is just delete and auto correct.

Anxiety is lifting. The world is no longer flat. The rain is clearing.

Tomorrow is going fine. I’m going to be fine. New Sober me is free.

Living in a Different Time Zone

I have not travelled recently. I do not have jet lag. I am living 6 hours behind or 18 hours ahead. I cannot sleep at a ‘normal’ time. Last night I managed to get to sleep somewhere between two and three. Last night was an early night. Lately it has been creeping up to four and five. That is my new normal. I do enjoy the quiet of the night. I stay up really late enjoying the peace. Then I toss and turn deeply sighing for an hour or more. Driving DH up the wall.

The evenings are long. I am still finding myself in this sober new world. Mini Habits are helping. Yesterday was Saturday. I made it my rest day. No need to, should, must need apply. Saturday is rest day. Sunday is my reflection and planning day.

Watched Diet Fiction last night. Excellent documentary. I am already adding more whole foods to my diet. I am on the right track. I am improving my diet, one whole food at a time. This will help me sleep better. Although I made muesli two days ago. I had it for three meals yesterday. Not sure if that was how I was supposed to eat it not. It tastes good. Will reserve it for breakfasts in the future. Remember Saturday was my rest day. Anything goes. Pyjama day all day.

Giving up alcohol was the easy part. I have gained time, health, money, freedom,… The only part I have yet to get under control is sleep. I am going back to the gym tomorrow. Exercise is a part of new old me. I started exercising before quitting alcohol and I am continuing with exercise. I have had a month break over Christmas/New Year. Time to get back to it.

Exercise, better eating should help get me back to better sleeping habits. Day 44 sober and my sleep is way out of wack, it’s on the other side of the planet. I am feeling tired when I wake up. I do not have this under control. Don’t worry it doesn’t make me want to open a bottle of wine. Or raid the drinks cabinet. I have a bottle of Noilly Prat sitting there. I have not moved the cabinet contents to the garage yet.

I haven’t mowed the lawns in a month. The weeds are high again. I don’t feel anxious about this. I don’t feel guilt. I feel an acceptance. It looks untidy but it looks free too. The birds and the bees are happy. The cats are happy. I am happy too. We have no front lawn. Living on a back section has its perks. There is no road side appeal. There is just a driveway to suggest that someone lives behind and beyond. It’s private and quiet. Just the way I like it.

Summer this year is warm and dry. The summer rains are absent. The evenings are long, breezy and cool. There is little humidity. It is pleasant. I have become a creature of the night. Summer is divine. The animals are feed and watered. I look after them better than I do myself. My passion fruit vine needs water, so do my tomatoes. My coriander/cilantro has gone to seed. My lime tree is still a baby. No limes again this year. Strawberries are a gift to the birds. The rhubarb leaves are huge. Cicadas chirp during the day and the crickets start up in the evenings.

Insomnia is with me for the summer. It hasn’t taken the hint that they are not welcome anymore. I am a good host. I have allowed Insomnia into my home. Insomnia is lying on the couch watching Netflix and reading books. Insomnia looks comfortable and settled. I would like Insomnia to leave. I have Insomnia’s bags packed and waiting by the door. Subtlety is not a trait that Insomnia has. Bluntness has little effect either. Will wait until Insomnia gets bored with me. Shouldn’t be long now, should it?

If I carry on with my life and build myself up stronger through exercise and more whole foods, vegetables and fruit ignoring Insomnia maybe one day I will wake up and she will be gone. Here’s hoping.

Ridiculous Thought #2

“I’ll never be able to travel again!”

Conclusion: Case Dismissed With Prejudice.

If I fly I’ll miss out on all the free drinks at the airport lounge and on the plane. I can’t go to Europe now. How can I eat tapas without wine? It’s just not done. No more Grappa. No more Limoncello making. No more Umeshu making. No more sangria. No more beers. No more vodka. No more Champagne, Barolo, or Cava. I can’t go back to Spain, Italy or France. There’s no point going to Oslo or Moscow or Dublin.

These were some real thoughts I had. As mentioned before, not all thoughts are equal. Some are straight out lies. The fear of the unknown makes us stay in the ordinary, somewhere safe. Better safe than sorry. Unlikely. You’d die of boredom. I tend not to believe a word I think when I go off on a rant. It is sure to sound legitimate and knowledgeable and even if it’s shouted it doesn’t make it right or even sane.

Never travel again? But you’ve already been to Thailand for a dry holiday. You survived it. No. You enjoyed it. Soda water the whole time. You loved it. You especially loved the scales you stood on every day telling you how much weight you had lost. They didn’t match the scales once you got home though. That wiped a smile off your face. One of them was wrong. There surely must be someone in Europe who doesn’t drink alcohol. Remember you spoke to that French waitress who couldn’t recommend a cheese because she hated the smell of it. There’s bound to be someone who hates alcohol too, right?

You can’t give up travel because of being sober. That’s just stupid. But you went to Spain to sample the wines and spirits. Italy, France, Japan, Australia. You collected wine labels and wine books. You even read wine notes. You started collecting wines.

The wine collection kept shrinking. If a wine was good to keep for 3-4 years it had no chance of waiting that long. It wouldn’t last a year. Buying expensive wine didn’t make it off limits. Nothing worked really. Wine was meant to be drunk. And it was.

Europe is not just wine and spirits. There is far more to it than a liquid. The art, architecture, history, music, theatre, people, beauty and driving. Of course I knew all this but my ridiculous self was turning blue in the face at the thought of not ever another drop. I’ll live and so will she.

About the airport lounge and the alcohol that is served onboard, well I don’t have to pay extra now for membership, and business class travel is about the leg room and lie-flat bedding. And with a well hydrated flight I might just adjust to time zones better on arrival. On short haul flights economy saves a bundle. But from New Zealand most places are far. Any flight over 9 hours and I say business class please.

Think of all the money I will save by not drinking overseas. There is less chance to be taken advantage on with a bill at a restaurant. That hasn’t happened though as far as I know. I check receipts. In fact I collect receipts, they become mementos.

A better sleep on a flight due to being correctly hydrated. Save a tonne of money through not drinking alcohol. You don’t have to worry about drinking and driving because you will always be sober. You will always be fresh to drive the next day. There will never be a concern if you are in an accident, you will be the sober driver. You will be in the right. Dead right, doesn’t help but, for minor scrapes, you know what I mean. You will better remember the trip. It will be more meaningful. You will make better clear headed decisions mid-trip.

Remember you are a nomad. Keep you passport up to date. Always.

The Damage the Poison Leaves

Sober 40 days.

It took me a week to feel less wobbly on my new sober feet. But what of my liver? My skin? My heart? My soul? My body? My home?

Insomnia is perhaps a body’s way of saying I’m recovering. Cut me some slack. I’m resting. A different time zone and be done with that. If I had a 9-5 job with insomnia it would be more than a challenge. It would be…I don’t know what it would be. I feel that I am almost getting through the insomnia. Today I woke at noon. I woke and staggered down the hall. Half asleep, not awake. It was not unpleasant. It was a sober stagger. My body is tired and it is saying, be kind, care for me some more. Rest and bear with me. Just a little longer.

My liver is repairing itself. I am sober. I am drinking more water. I am eating better. I am moving more. I am sleeping.

How long does it take to repair a fatty liver?
Could be up to 6 weeks.

At the end of six weeks I hope that the insomnia is finished with me and wanders off and spends time with someone else. I also hope that my liver is restored to better health.

I’m going back to sleep. It may be 1pm. But who really cares? I’m an adult. My time is mine and I will sleep in the afternoon if I want to. I have nowhere to be other than here. Good night.

Ridiculous Thought #1

“I’ll never be able to enjoy listening to jazz again if I stop drinking.”

Conclusion: Case dismissed with prejudice.

Started sketching again late into the night. WBGO* online radio and my two cats as company. First time I have listened to WBGO while sketching sober. It felt good. In the groove again. It felt familiar and even better sober. Concentration was present. Small steps. My fingers cramped up. It has been so long. I’m out of practice. A good cramp. It will get easier day by day as I return to sketching and painting. Creative pursuits with a clear head.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”**

Mini habits are having a positive impact already. The evening breeze is coming in the window with the occasional moth. The neighbourhood is quiet. I can hear from far, far away the hum of the motorway. No morepork (owls) hooting in the night. No planes, no helicopters. Admittedly it is already morning and a peaceful time to think and create. The stars might be out but I’m occupied. My eyes are staring straight ahead, following the pen strokes. The pen stroke following my brain. Or maybe my brain is following the pen. Who knows what my hand will draw next? Until tomorrow.

*WBGO is a jazz public radio station “Jazz 88”, 88.3FM from a studio in Newark, New Jersey, USA.

**Dr Seuss quote

Can’t Help Myself

Pre-school children sit in a room. They are told they can have a marshmallow now, or if they can wait 15 minutes they can have 2 marshmallows. The marshmallow in placed in front of the children. The instructor walks out of the room and observes the children.

Are you a 1 or a 2 marshmallow kind of person? The Stanford “Marshmallow Experiment” was carried out in 1960 by Walter Mischel and Ebbe B. Ebbesen. They wanted to observe delayed gratification.

In that case I would easily be a 2.

In real life can we be 2s always? I don’t think we can. I think we fluctuate between the two, the instant versus delayed gratification, like a tug of war. Or is it just in our heads the Devil’s advocate whispering, take it now, why wait? We know to wait gives a better outcome but we also know it is more difficult to wait.

Those of us that are able to wait, or to delay gratification, have a better chance of succeeding in life or that’s what the experiment was supposed to show. Years later it was proven that the results depended on the socioeconomic background of the child. It wasn’t based on will power at all; it depended on the affluence of the household. A biased experiment.

Why am I talking about this? It kind of relates. In my previous blog Care, I mention the mini-habits and that there should be a limit on 4, otherwise it is harder to achieve. Well I did mention I had 6 mini-habits. That’s right. More than recommended. Did I read the label and the instructions? Yes. Do I know better? It would appear so.

Does assembling more mini-habits than recommended mean that I am stuffing my pockets with marshmallows now so that I can achieve my goals earlier? Am I trying to accumulate the habits quicker? Am I rushing the process? Does that mean that I might just end up with a sticky gooey mess and no mini-habits at the end of it? Am I trying to get instant gratification on too many goals as apposed to if I took it slow, I would delay the goals but end up with properly formed habits?

Here are my 6 mini-habits:

  1. Eat a whole food daily.
  2. Open Morning Pages Journal
  3. Put on Gym Gear or Sit on Exercise Bike or Sit in Sauna
  4. Do 1 Duolingo lesson
  5. Open Sketchbook
  6. 2 pages of Reading

This is beginning to sound like the Spanish Inquisition…

These are my 7 mini-habits:

  1. Eat a whole food daily.
  2. Open Morning Pages Journal
  3. Put on Gym Gear or Sit on Exercise Bike or Sit in Sauna
  4. Do 1 Duolingo lesson
  5. Open Sketchbook
  6. 2 pages of Reading
  7. Stand Outside in the Garden

We shall just have to wait and see. I am going to continue with my 7 mini-habits and monitor how I go. So far so good. This is my experiment. After a month of these mini-habit they should evolve into proper habits. The habits will be on autopilot. Wish me luck.

Care

My word is CARE. This year, 2019, the year of care. It might also be the year of the pig but that is for another post.

Care is providing and protecting what is necessary for health and welfare. Looking after, having an interest or concern for something that is important.

Care is my umbrella word for this year. It will shade me when I step too close to the sun, it will provide shelter when I leave myself out in the rain, it will protect me from side winds when gusts appear out of nowhere.

Choosing care is choosing kindness to oneself. It is making a choice to be kind. It is enveloping oneself carefully in the inclusion of the world. It is not excluding, it is not barring or deterring oneself from the world. It is opening one’s arms and embracing the world from a safe distance. That distance is up to you. It’s your world after all.

Listen for the voice of kindness deep within yourself. Ignore the obnoxious loud whining of the one you would rather dump off the edge of a cliff but its a part of you and you can’t shake it off. The whining will stop or become so quiet that you will stop noticing it. Your voice of kindness will be all that you hear. You need to listen for it. It is there. It has always been there waiting patiently for you.

I am not depriving myself of alcohol I am choosing freedom. I feel like I have another start at life. The new sober me is great to be. I am embracing this sober life. It is the right choice for me. I’ve been dreaming of this off and on for so long, it seemed unobtainable. I thought I needed willpower. Turns out I didn’t need it. I chose to stop poisoning my body, mind and soul. That is all.

38 days in and I am starting to feel stronger about my decision. Insomnia is still with me but I am not wrestling with it. I accept it is with me for now. It is summer and the nights are cool and it doesn’t really matter what time I go to bed. 4am is my new normal. This morning it was 5am. Insomnia won’t be with me forever. I have plans to shock it out of my system. But all in good time. Slowly, slowly does it. The turtle wins the race, not with speed but with consistency.

I am trying Mini Habits, the idea from Stephen Guise. Ridiculously small actions done daily to form habits.

Open my Morning Pages Journal.

The above is one of my mini habits. That is all I have to do. It doesn’t say write three pages. It doesn’t say write anything. It doesn’t even say sit down in front of your Morning Pages journal. It doesn’t even say pick up a fountain pen. It is just a ridiculously simple action to open a journal, nothing more, nothing less.

If I happen to be sitting down and open my journal and I have a fountain pen in my hand, I might feel inclined to write something. A line, a sentence, the date, three pages. There is no obligation to do anything except open a journal. It I choose to do more that is a bonus.

See how it works. The concept encourages you rather than making you feel bad if you didn’t do your mini habit. And it you don’t even manage to do your habit, it is no big deal either.

It is suggested that you don’t introduce more than 4 mini habits into your life. Anymore and you are overdoing it.

Addictive personalities, a myth if ever there was such a thing, makes one go all out or do nothing. It is all on or all off. There is no in between. The tap is either on or off, there is no low pressure there is only high pressure or off. There is no trickle, there is no moderate pressure. If one has the steering towards an addiction towards alcohol, then there is most likely a tendency to overindulge in other areas too, food, gambling,…

The first sip, the first bite, the first bet gives a thrill but how about the third or the tenth? Why is there a need for a first anything anyway?

I had my first sober pizza yesterday and that tasted better than my first drunken pizza. To be honest, I can’t remember it. Is that so surprising?

I went off on a tangent when I had no intention. Forgive me. Back to mini habits and limiting oneself to 4 habits. If you are like me you have 6 written down and you are trying to be an overachiever, pushing yourself to the limit. All for what? It’s just opening a book. The deflated feeling when you don’t meet a goal is because your goal was too vague, too big or too many, completely unmanageable. It wasn’t because you aren’t able. It’s just worded it wrong. You wanted instant gratification. You wanted it all now. Life isn’t like that. It is a journey. If you run all the way you will be exhausted. It is better to walk and rest, take things slow. What’s the rush. The journey is the process and you are meant to enjoy it.

Another of my mini habits is:

Put on your Gym Gear or Sit on the Exercycle Machine or Sit in Sauna

There is no actual exercise required. No 100 sprints, no push ups just get dressed or sit somewhere. This is an alternative mini habit. A habit with a choice. We like choices as long as there aren’t too many of them. If there are too many of them we freeze up and make no choice. Yesterday to pick up my pizza I put on my gym gear. That was me. I walked to the car. Drove to the pizza place and collected my pizza and walked quickly back to the car and home. That was my Exercise mini habit done. No shame that I didn’t go to the gym, didn’t walk so many steps, just satisfaction of doing something towards the idea of the thought of exercise. That’s half of it, isn’t it. The thinking about something. The intention is there. I checked off my Exercise as done. I don’t usually go to the gym on Saturday anyway so I don’t feel guilty.

These mini habits are so stupidly simple that there is no guilt for not doing them and no shame if you do do them. If so inclined you happen to drive to the gym and start exercising then great, that’s a bonus. If you happen to pick up and pen and write a line or a page or a few, again it’s a bonus.

The point of the mini habits is to create habits. Habits are things you do daily. They become something you do so often they are something you don’t without thinking. It’s the lazy way to form habits. I’m all for it.

The goal and the action cannot be the same. The action is a smaller part of the goal. Let’s look at my “Exercise” mini habit, my action is tiny. It involves either putting on clothes or sitting on something. Even on a bad day I think I could manage this. On a good day I could be on the treadmill for 40 minutes, followed by weights and stretching. It’s an idea. The goal is a weight goal. It is generous. As in I have given myself plenty of time to achieve my goal. A year, with my first mini goal after three months. I’m after a lifestyle change here. My “Exercise” mini habit is linked to my “Food” habit, Eat a whole food daily. Combining the two mini habits improves my diet (my eating habits) and makes me move my body more. It improves what I eat and my overall well being.

Take care of yourself. What would your mini habit be?