Alcoholism is wrapped like a poisonous vine all through New Zealand society. Every magazine, commercial, advertisement, film, book has a mention or a splash of an image of someone enjoying an alcoholic beverage. The drunk ones always have more fun, more confidence, gorgeous friends, they live life to the fool full. They get their hooks into you from youth and cling to your ankles when you try to run away. They offer free drinks, a discount when bought in bulk, wine clubs to help you talk the talk, tastings and trips and a day at the races all sponsored by big brands.

To chose a sober life is conscious choice. The right choice. It is not the easier path. At any function you attend the alcoholic array is endless, the non alcoholic choice is one, orange juice. I haven’t had orange juice in years. I don’t like sickly drinks. Never have. Give me salty, sour or bitter anytime.

I say this but I haven’t been out yet to a western restaurant or bar yet. Asian and Indian restaurants: yes. They serve tea and water without question. There is no awkward pause before saying just water please. I plan to order sparkling water when I do go out where wine is abundantly on the menu. You know but, I keep thinking of all the money I’m saving by not drinking out or at home. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

Wise Greg at Club East Indianapolis wrote “… many ….. value the image of recovery over recovery itself.”

I hadn’t thought about recovery at all. And with the image of recovery there’s a disconnect. To me that is something on television or in film. Someone else with a foreign accent. It’s not me. I’m only interested in the internal journey. I hadn’t thought of it as a recovery. My secret is “I never grew up.” My curiosity is endless. This is helping me discover “sober”. Really in essence it is learning to live again fully present.

Even the word alcoholic seems like a foreign word. It doesn’t roll off the tongue easily. It is a word I may think I am but will not speak aloud. Perhaps I am still in denial about this. Acceptance will grow on me.

Scott Peck’s book The Path Less Traveled was an exciting book for me when I read it many moons ago. I took that book to heart and have always forged my own one. To create a new path rather than follow one already ploughed is more difficult but is ultimately more satisfying. It is nice to get pointers and meet like-minded or not along the way. I am tackling this new sober path the same way.

Recovery, discovery, internal journey, whatever you call it I am doing it. I am not here to pretend to be sober. I tell it like it is, how it feels, straight. (How I liked my vodka.) Maybe blunt at times. Honest. Absolutely. Without that I am nothing. I take my life seriously. (I drank seriously too. Look where that got me.) I am loving this new sober me.

Day 52

In bed by 11pm after a long soak in an Epsom salt bath with a book. More reading till almost midnight. Lights out. I relaxed every part of my body in anticipation of sleep. Sleep didn’t come. 1:30am rolled around. Light on again. More reading. Light off. Calling quiet now for sleep. Less tossing and turning and sighing last night. Managed to get to sleep somewhere around two. Better. Not great but better. Doesn’t help when my cats wake me up at 7:30am greeting me with ciaos and demanding food and acknowledgement with a tummy rub. I get up without a grizzle. I do it with love and wander off to the toilet before heading back to bed and more sleep. The alarm clock said 8am. I changed it back to 9am. Even then it wasn’t enough. 10am and finally I emerged. Bleary eyed. Not rearing to go but up.

Sleep is not my BFF anymore. I don’t know where we went wrong. It all happened around the time I became sober. I stayed up late instead of going to bed. The evenings were long. I sat in a daze of what now. Either I abandoned sleep or she abandoned me. I’m trying to get in sleep’s good graces but it is an effort. Worth it but exhausting.

Showing up is showing commitment and I will show up before midnight every night and wait patiently for sleep. I won’t get frustrated if she doesn’t show. I won’t get angry. I will not sigh. I will not toss and turn and wrestle with the sheets. I will persevere. Sleep will come around again. I may get up and wander the house and do something else but I will come back to bed and try again. Patience and perseverance will prevail.

The gym today. I made it. I walked on the treadmill to the words of my audio book. I cycled for a bit. Then I jumped onto a bosu ball and tottered awkwardly about. And done. Heat rate elevated more than usual so I took it easy.

Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth is my book for the evenings. It is almost finished. It is fascinating. It is difficult to put down. Perhaps it is the wrong choice to have beside the bed. Instead it should be a boring/difficult book. One hard to pick up rather than one to put down. I will be onto the next soon and it will no longer matter.

Discounted marshmallows

Sweet tooth did the supermarket run today. She bought 10 bags of Christmas marshmallows. They were NZ$1.40 down from $NZ$2.00. I knew they would be there. I had a feeling they’d be discounted. I restrained myself to limiting myself to ten bags.

Wow. The self-control she must have, you might be thinking? Hardly. As soon as I parked the car at home, I placed nine bags into the locker and shut the door. As I write this I can report that the contents of one bag is already missing. I won’t be filing a report. It’s the casualties of life.

The logic behind storing the marshmallows in the garage is laziness. Sure there is a sweet tooth that lives inside of me but she is lazy. There is no way she would bother to go down to the garage and get another bag. The marshmallows are safe where they are. For now at least.

The plan is to ration the sweet tooth to one bag a week. Realistically speaking, it means sweet tooth wolfs down one bag in one sitting but writing as one bag a week makes her sounds like she has her sweet tooth under control.

Day 32 Sober. Reading Allen Carr’s “The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking.” It has put the spotlight on my sweet addiction. Substitution is not the answer. Half way through and finding it very helpful.

Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful sober 2019!

Mrs D is Going Within

Mrs D is Going Within by Lotta Dann

I’ve gone from an alcohol addiction to a reading addiction. I have finished Lotta Dann’s second book Mrs D is Going Within. One book per day. I wonder if I have an addictive personality? I would, wouldn’t you say so? I love reading and when you have a good book it is hard to put it down. Substitute reading/book for wine and it could be the same thing.

A reading obsession is healthy, isn’t it? Healthier than a sugar binge. But I tend to indulge in that occasionally too. That used to be with wine. Now the sweet tooth is going it alone.

Loved both books. Read them round the right way. Such an easy style to read. Great substance and ideas of how to proceed in the journey in sober land. I made the decision not to drink for Christmas after reading these books. It will be my first sober Christmas ever. Two years ago I started off Christmas Day with the roast meat and vegetables in the oven and champagne in the bath for me. Subsequently after a few drinks I fell asleep in the bath and ended up burning the lunch. It was edible just. Will not be repeating that again.

I tidied up the backyard today. I felt good with the results. I had help too. Many hands make light work. Gosh the weeds were high. All gone now. And with them gone I felt a lightness that made me realise that it was bothering me that the garden was a mess. I had sober issues and was concentrating on not drinking or so I told myself. Stepping into the garden was a tonic. Sitting outside for lunch was fantastic. The reed shade blocked out the sun enough to enjoy the warmth but not be burnt to a crisp.

Quitting alcohol is the easy bit. Or it is so far for me. I’m on Day 13. A newbie. Humour me. Living sober is the journey.
One which needs a toolbox for the ride.
The tools inside my bag are:

Regular Exercise (Walking, Pokemon Go, Weights)
Unconditional Love from my Two Cats (Not a tool per-say but imagine an adorable photo)
Sober Treats (None sweet tooth variety)
Morning Pages (3 pages of writing, Gratitude is part of this)
Internet Out of the Bedroom Habit

I am a work in progress. I don’t do everything perfectly. I make an effort most of the time. Sometimes I have time off. This week I’ve taken time off regular exercise because I cannot sleep. Insomnia is still with me. Two hours sleep last night. I hope that I can re-calibrate my sleeping habit tonight. I am hopeful. My sober treat today was a soak in the bath, with a book and bath salts and an iced glass of sparkling water. I’m trying to gather sober treats to pat myself on the back and say well done me. Morning pages were done at 1:30am. I made use of my time. My smart phone is in the hall charging instead of in the bedroom. Tonight will be the first night without my computer in the bedroom. Books will be on my bedside table instead.

Mindfulness. I think I have been doing a version of this without knowing since i was young. I didn’t know what it was. Observing while in the moment. My mind will wander away from the chatter and I will be in the moment, miss the question or the conversation and upset those around me. Perhaps this is just absentmindedness instead?

Mrs D is Going Without

Mrs D is Going Without by Lotta Dann

I have taken Lotta Dann’s advice and gone to the library to get books on getting/being sober. I picked up a bundle today and I am already halfway through Mrs D is Going Without. At the rate I’m going I’ll have it finished tonight.

To read a book that speaks to you is quite a Godsend. Every person’s reason to give up alcohol is different. Every person’s triggers are different. Every person’s symptoms are different. Depending on which questionnaire you fill out you can either breathe a sigh and think falsely that you aren’t an alcoholic. The stages of alcoholism are different depending on which website you look. Every country has there own relationship with alcohol. Some are closer than others.

Some people drink from the morning, others from 5pm. For me it was 6pm. Some days dry some days not. Life used to revolve around alcohol. From trips overseas, to a theatre visit to a night at home al fresco in the garden. Oysters? Why not. A nice glass of Chablis to go with that. When in Spain do as Spanish do. A brunch sandwich? Yes. Why not. A glass of red to go with that? What an excellent idea. Intermission. A wine? Or an ice cream? Why not both?

I have no regrets of what, where and how and with whom I have consumed alcohol. To regret would be redundant. I do enjoy wine. I can’t say did yet because it is still too soon.  I have a sneaking feeling that my idea to go back to wine will be a disaster of an idea. The concept of moderation is not why I am here today writing about quitting alcohol. I go to this point by over indulging, drinking to excess. Because I couldn’t drink in moderation. I haven’t woken up to the idea that moderation is not me. All in or not at all. I will learn eventually. For now though I concentrate on not drinking and trying to sleep. This insomnia is being to become stale. I am well and truly over it.  I accept insomnia as a side effect of giving up alcohol. i bear it stoically. This is all self inflicted. There is no one else to blame except myself. But even with that said I do not blame myself. It is what it is.

Back to my book….Thanks Mrs D.