Adios 2019

No shoulds or musts this Christmas just past. No presents exchanged. No dessert. Lunch at 4pm. Breakfast in pyjamas. It was just right. Spending time leisurely and watching the Christmas tree lights twinkling, getting Alexa to play Christmas music. No obligations. None. No travelling. None.

Second Christmas sober, yet it feels like my first. Newly sober only a month last year and it felt all so new and weird. It felt more like a sacrifice or a token gesture to myself, a temporary measure. Second Christmas in and I’m loving it sober.

When I watch a movie or a series I no longer get envious of the wine or spirits being consumed. I don’t go down the alcohol aisle at the supermarket. I no longer exchange rewards for alcohol. I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not drinking. I’m letting go of the crutch.

I no longer need actual crutches too. My fibula bone is mending well. The muscles around the bone are getting a workout. I can walk up steps easily but still working on coming down. Physiotherapy continues. Progress is being made.

Appreciation of small things is what I have learnt. Here are a few:

I can place bread in the toaster without needing to remove my crutch.

I can fetch someone else a cup of tea and something sweet.

Having a bath is wonderful.

Listen to your body. When it needs sleep: sleep.

I no longer need to put on a moon boot and gather crutches to get from bed to the loo. Accidents did happen.

Loading a dishwasher is a job of satisfaction now not a chore.

Walking barefoot on the sand at the beach is precious. And then when the water washes over your feet it’s a rush of joy.

I can now sew back on all the buttons that came off the duvet bottom. Each time I fluffed up the duvet the buttons got caught in my crutch, and off they flew. I have collected them in a jar. Time for a repair job.

Learning to be a better passenger in the car. Holding my tongue. Then enjoying being driven. Letting the driver drive without ‘helpful’ comments from the backseat driver sitting in front seat, without the wheel.

Housework is no longer loathsome. It’s growing on me.

I no longer take my body for granted.

Six weeks in bed was actually enjoyable. I had one really grumpy day but otherwise I made the most of it. Reading, writing, drawing, thinking, watching films and documentaries, drinking lots of water. I didn’t have to look after anyone but myself. DH looked after me, fed me and amused me.

Knee scooters are awesome. Mobility increases 10 fold.

Get lessons on how to hold crutches properly. I was holding mine backwards. Yes it is possible but very unstable. Now I am a pro.

Patience is a virtue.

Spending time with yourself is enjoyable.

A tray turned upside down makes a great table in bed.

All the best for 2020!

Sleep

Never underestimate the power and value of sleep.

I have always placed importance on sleep. Right throughout my life. I cherish my ability to be able to fall asleep quite readily until I can’t.

In my late teenage years I would lie in bed waiting for sleep to come. It always came later than my bedtime. It infuriated me. At the time I didn’t recognise it as insomnia. I didn’t realise that my time clock was functioning a couple of hours behind. This is normal for teenagers. Again I didn’t know this at the time. I didn’t really think about turning on the light to read in the space between awake and sleep. During those years I had turned my back on reading, I was more interested in drinking and trying to fit in. Luckily I found my way back to books a few years later. And sleep came as easily as it did before.

Now I again treasure books and surround myself with them as if my life depends on them.

The other time I couldn’t sleep was right after giving up alcohol. I would lie awake and wish for sleep to come. Sometimes it never came. I kept saying to myself to be patient. Close your eyes. Sleep will come. But it didn’t. I must have gotten some winks because I woke up exhausted and wreaked. Becoming sober was difficult because I lost so much sleep. I had bad insomnia. I didn’t get dry horrors. I didn’t suffer from hallucinations. I didn’t really crave alcohol too much. I was tired of drinking and I could see an early unnecessary death at my lack of ‘stop’ when drinking. It must have been about 3-4 months before my sleep got back to normal. It was a tug of war between is it worth giving up drinking to feel so wretched with the lack of sleep. I persevered and kept believing in it will get better, sleep will come back. Thank God it did. I do not think light of my ability to sleep well. It is a habit practised everyday. It is something to be looked forward to and enjoyed. Sometimes we get less than we need. We adjust and make time to get to bed earlier. To make sleep a priority.

Sleep. Invest in a comfortable bed. Good sheets and blankets, duvets that you can afford. You will spend a third of your life in bed. So it should be enjoyable. A good night’s sleep gives you the strength to face the next day. It revives. It restores. It allows our body and mind to rest. Although they don’t seem to rest at all. The body is forever mending itself. The brain is dreaming. Most of which we never remember and can’t make head nor tail of it. Regardless sleep is important.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head. A warm bed. There is no war or violence that prevents me from waking up at any sudden sound of danger. I am grateful for the softness of the sheets. The more you wash them the softer they become. The rituals the cats perform before sleeping is as peaceful as can be. The mandatory circling. The mandatory licking and preening. The stretching and the final position chosen. Sleep achieved. They don’t overthink, they no longer worry about their next meal, they feel safe. They are home.

Our rescue kittens have transformed into relaxed cats. Sure they run and hide with the occasional stranger in the house. They growl at cars from the windowsills. They dash in the opposite direction at the sound of an engine when outside. For that I am glad. Protection from cars is instinct.

I watch them sleep. It brings me joy. With the cast on my leg I seem to go to the loo more often at night. And with that, the movement of the duvet, the light turned on, the sound of the knee scooter making its way to the bathroom. One cat has dutifully woken up and accompanied me each and every time. Her care for me just warms my heart. Lately she comes sometimes. I put that down to the fact that she believes she can trust me to be alone on the loo. She believes the bone to be healed. She believes that I am okay.

Watching them sleep, one curled up into a ball, neat and tidy, tail encircling the body, the other one sprawled out, underbelly showing, untidy and relaxed as cat-possible, as I said it brings me joy. They no longer bother to wake if I roll over, or adjust the pillows under my leg. They carry on sleeping. They feel safe. They feel protected. They feel loved. They are content. They have a home. That is all.

Sleep well.

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.

5am revisited

My body thinks that 5am means going to bed at 5am.
Getting up at 5am isn’t going to happen for me. I give up for now.

Insomnia is still with me. Hard physical work, long Epsom salt baths, lavender tea, going to bed early just isn’t working.

I am just going to roll with the hours and see where it takes me. Sleep when my body says sleep. Not because it’s the norm. This morning it was almost 5am that I got to sleep. It wasn’t for the love of trying.

I give up. I surrender. Sleep: do your worst. I will follow your lead.

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.

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.