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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Garden Care

2019 is the Year of Care for me. And in keeping with this theme I am sorting out systems to make life run smoothly.

I have struggled with the lawns. DH kept saying hire someone. We did briefly but we weren’t impressed so that stopped. I carried on mowing them myself erratically rather than regularly. The grass got away on me.

This week I asked for recommendations and contacted someone and they came and started straight away. Can I just say, the lawns look amazing. The place looks tidy. I have asked the company to continue regularly. This is one system in place. A step in the right direction. Progress.

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?