One year sober

I started writing this blog not with the determination of giving up alcohol completely. I was going to dry out. The title of my blog “Moderately Sober” doesn’t take the journey of sober life seriously. I didn’t really think I would be sober forever. I started the blog and started the sober journey because being drunk and blacking out was not leading to a long life. I was killing myself softly.

My blog title is a reminder that moderation is not possible for me.

Today I am sober. I intend to stay sober. I am glad I am sober.

I found a strength that was already within me to stop drinking. I added one day to the next. I felt lost with what to do with my hands, what to do with the new found time up my sleeve. I was amazed at the money I saved. I began to notice that there were others out there also not drinking. A minority, yet, a noticeable number.

The support of the sober community is not to be underestimated. Nudges and the right words at certain times make the difference to lift oneself rather than fall flat. Thank you. You know who you are.

I had a flash of admiration from someone unable to stop drinking the other day. There is no special blue pill to take and voila I am instantly sober. There is a thought, a choice, an idea, a decision. One and all of them. Sometimes it doesn’t work first time, but with the desire to keep trying, one can stop the drinking. Being sober is not just one decision, it is a daily decision. One that if repeated often enough becomes an automatic habit. So automatic that you no longer think about alcohol. Other things in life take your focus. Your spouse, your family, your pets, your renewed discovery of your passion, your mornings, your lifestyle.

I have got back my love of drawing. It must be about two and a half months and I have been sketching daily. The broken ankle ‘helped’ me get back into this. I wonder where this will lead me?

An appreciation and gratitude for everyday tasks has also humbled me. Again being immobile and not being able to do things for myself has taught me patience and also how to ask for help. I am still unable to drive. I love driving. But funnily enough I don’t miss it for now. Crutches and moon boot are only for crowded areas, more of a safety net for me now. Hurray – I am able to carry a cup of tea, I am able to cook. I continue with physiotherapy and getting back to walking with a more regular gait. The moon boot is off while at home. We are coming into summer so walking about in bare feet is just the best. Having my own company for countless days in bed with a foot elevated in a cast has given me peace. I’m fine with my own company. I have been for a while now. Sure there have been days when it drove me round the twist but it was more of the decision of movement having been taken away from me rather than the company.

Having a sober buddy whether they be online, in the same household, same neighbourhood or anywhere really, is incredibly beneficial and much needed support when feeling wobbly. Thank you to my sober buddies.

“My Year of Sober” was a success. I have been thinking about what next?

My Year of Wellbeing is my next focus. I have concrete goals jotted down. This starts today.

Sober as. Always.

On the way

Progress is being made. I am learning to walk again. Today is the first day in a long while I haven’t felt exhausted.

Simple things you take for granted being able to do become a huge effort when you have a broken bone.

Can’t believe I’m writing this because it is so not me, but here goes, I’m grateful I was able to do washing today. Said it. I am one who detests housework. Yet today it was satisfying to be able to get some clean laundry done by myself.

Admittedly it was just pushing buttons. There was sorting and loading. There was adding the laundry detergent. There was the decision as to which type of load. Then the wait. Then once the washing machine had completed its magic the load was then transferred to the dryer. The lint holder cleaned and again a couple of buttons pushed and then another waiting game.

It was a bit like Frere Jacques except with laundry. Once the first load made it to the dryer, a second load began in the washing machine. The swirling of water and the rotating drums in their own rhythms. Followed by hauling warm clean laundry to the bedroom to fold. One by one, each placed into their sameness piles, undies on top of undies, t-shirts on top of t-shirts, socks paired then bundled together then piled into a mound.

The mountain in the wash house is getting smaller. The clean piles are put away and I am feeling satisfaction.

Today was a good day. Told you I liked Mondays.

Five days away from being one year sober. Feeling pretty amazed that I have got this far.

2 months on

Fed up. Writing out my feelings. Don’t for God sakes feel sorry for me or give me sympathy. I’m grumpy. It won’t be received graciously.

I managed to get outside into the garden. I was wallowing in bed feeling so low. My hair hasn’t been brushed in God knows how long. I brushed my teeth for the first time in three days. I am well overdue for a bath. I am two months into recovery from my broken ankle.

Last night I was teary eyed. Netflix couldn’t cure my depression. It didn’t lift me at all. YouTube did nothing. I was restless and barely made my daily sketch. I didn’t want to sleep. Or was it I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know. It was after 2 and I was wide awake.

I looked at the depression, self compassion modules. I read the notes and it said to read them in order. I couldn’t even bring myself to open the module. When you can barely get out of bed, with poor self hygiene then reading something to improve or elevate yourself just is so far out of reach and requiring too much energy.

As I said I made it out to the garden and sat in the sun. I threw on a dress, a baggy summer dress. Turns out it was back to front. Oh well. It matched my mood. I thought it was better to be ‘dressed’ in my own backyard than ‘running about’ in a T-shirt and underpants. I say running about with loaded sarcasm. I am still on crutches with a moon boot. My moon boot stands at attention waiting for me to jump into it when I am in bed.

My knee scooter has been banned by my physiotherapist. She said she doesn’t want to see it. She wants me to use crutches placing some weight on my right leg. So I have designed a cheat method of getting into the moon boot. The three leg Velcro straps are done up loosely, I can slide my foot into the boot, and do them up quicker. Then there are two more straps on the foot. It saves seconds. When going to the loo these seconds are precious.

I must be the most hydrated person on the planet just now. The boredom of a broken ankle makes me drink more water. What comes in must come out. Duh.

Oh and by the way I broke my fibula not the tibia, like I thought. The fibula is apparently not a weight bearing bone yet I have been off the weight on my right leg for six weeks! That will teach me for going the non-surgery route.

The colour is coming back to my right foot. From a reddy pink shade moving back to a pasty white. It is not there yet but much improved. Wrinkles have come back. Note that is a good thing. It means that the circulation is working. The swelling is gone. There is tenderness around the ankle. That’s to be expected. There is stiffness and pins and needles. This is normal because the foot hasn’t been used for a while. Weight is slowly going onto various parts. The muscles are being stretched and pulled. The toes scrunched to pick up objects. Progress is being made.

Coming up to my one year sober mark at the end of the month. Thought I would be feeling better about it but the broken ankle is getting in the way. No matter how low I feel I don’t want to drink again. But I need to develop better habits of celebration.

I am learning how to treat myself. Here she goes again with bloody ice cream. Passionfruit ice blocks with white chocolate. The most expensive ice cream I have even bought. Three blocks to a pack. I slammed aside my frugal self and let the self indulgent me free reign in the frozen aisle. I also tried a new brand of AF ginger beer. Delicious. Gingery and dry. Low sugar by the taste. I have found my summer drink.

That’s enough waffling. Wrote away the grumpiness. Feeling much better. If you comment, I promise not to bite your head off.

Weight for me

I am so so sick of thinking, breathing, writing and talking about WEIGHT.

Being sober is a choice and yay I am glad I did it. I decided 11 months ago that enough was enough. With food you can’t say enough I am done with eating and stop completely. Simply you would die. Obesity and weight isn’t about food anyway. That is the tip of the iceberg and all that you can see. The mind games and the rest is invisible on the surface but oh so very present, day in day out.

Enough!

Instead my solution is to hang a lovely item of clothing that I aim to wear in my eye line.

Ahhh. And a photo too of the lovely item of clothing so even if I am in another room or out and have a decision to make I can look at it and make the right decision. A photo of a swatch of the fabric is all I need. Note that the swatch of fabric isn’t black. We all know which is the right decision anyway. Fu*k it food is off the menu.

(I know this strategy probably won’t work on a low day. The item of clothing will make me laugh. But not in a good way. A sarcastic laugh. Unbecoming. )

It is a positive incentive strategy. There is no NO. There is no limitation on what I can or cannot eat. There is only a choice. With each choice about what I eat, hopefully I will be making more and more better choices. This is for me. A healthier me.

So next time I decide to have a second ice cream for the day I won’t just hesitate. I will politely decline to the child inside of me who is jumping up and down at my side pulling the bottom of my T-shirt and whining, pleeeasseee. Enough. My choice is to say no thank you. That’s it. No whining. No performing. Just no thank you. I can picture my lovely item of clothing.

Yesterday we sat outside and ate dinner. It’s the first time since the bone break that I have sat in the garden, weeded the raised garden beds or eaten outside. Yay for knee scooters! The spring weather is here. There was no wind. I turned on the outside heater so we could be outside in T-shirts and enjoy the moment. My substitute for a candle! Hygge!

One better decision at a time.

Self Care: Menopause & Night sweats

I read that a side effect of taking an SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) was a reduction in frequency of hot flashes, hot flushes or night sweats. For some it completely stops them. It works for some women and not for others. Trial and error. I was having 30 hot moments per day. I was willing to try almost anything.

It worked. At the time I was in peri-menopause. No hot flushes thanks to the SSRI.An entire year has passed since I last had my period so now I am post-menopause. I have noticed a lessening of the desired effect that the SSRI is having.

In the past I was having alcohol, caffeine and an unhealthy diet. Then I had no night sweats or hot flushes. I felt very lucky.

Fast forward to now and sober 11 months. I drink coffee and tea. My diet has improved. The hot flushes are back. Not as bad as before but they are back.

I am doing hot flush tests. Seeing how my body reacts to certain foods.

Not looking good.

FOODS TO AVOID FOR ME:

Licorice
Chocolate

Ice cream is safe for now and still on the menu. I am not cutting out all chocolate. Solid chocolate only. If something has some chocolate in it I will still have it. This is not scientific at all. But you knew that.

Cold drinks are better than hot drinks for those who suffer from hot flushes. We’re heading into summer anyway so that it easy to have room temperature or cold tea or water.

I sleep in a cool room. I don’t wear as many layers of clothing as I used to. And don’t need multiple layers of blankets.

I ate my last bag of licorice today. A sad day for me. I have blackadder tea which is the taste of licorice without all the sugar. That is what I will be drinking instead.

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.

Ch ch change

Change is made when small actions are repeated until it becomes a habit.

Change doesn’t happen over night. Change doesn’t happen when you do a new thing once. Actions must be repeated again and again consistently in order for change to occur.

I am writing this for myself as a reminder that change just doesn’t happen by itself. As obvious as it sounds I keep forgetting this and stumble when change doesn’t materialise immediately.

Change requires patience, consistency and repeated behaviour.

I decided while having a cast on my broken ankle that now would be a good time to lose weight. Not so. To heal a broken bone it requires nutrition and possibly more food than normal. I ignored this fact and installed my “new found knowledge” and had just fruit for breakfast, toast for lunch and you can guess what happened…

Low blood sugar reared its head again. Bananas are food from the Gods. Bananas are my go to food if I need instant energy. So I recovered from my moment slowly.

Throbbing headache, feeling nauseous, shaky, sweaty, chills, thirsty, elevated temperature. Why do I do this to myself? Far from clever.

Sweet tea, banana, water, sleep. Followed by dinner a couple of hours later. Followed by more sleep.

Moral of the story is heal the bone first and then deal with the weight.

It may seem obvious to observers but when you are in the thick of it and with time on your hands stupid ideas can appear sensible and efficient. Well stupid ideas are stupid, before conception, during execution and when they have failed.

Lesson learnt this time.

At no time have I felt like having a drink. Except when I heard good new music and thought that this would go well with a glass of red wine. I then rebuked myself and squashed that thought.

Sober and I know it, clap your hands.

Floundering Inc

Which way is up?
Why are my eyes leaking?
This sigh!

I cannot smile for myself. How can I smile for anyone else?

Doing nothing can be the best way to sit out a funk. Or in this case a sit in. I hope it doesn’t last long. I cannot see an out. I know in my logical part of my brain that it won’t last forever. I know that. But. The loudest part of me cannot see that. It cannot fathom that. It despairs. It doesn’t see why I should bother trying. Why bother? What’s the point? Lie down. Give up. Stay down. You’re not worth it. You’re down right ugly. To the core.

I just want to hug myself and grip tightly and stay like that until the tears stop rolling own my cheek. Saying nothing. There are no words that comfort me. I just need to feel constricted and warm, cocooned. I don’t need unnecessary sounds of ‘there, there’ that’s just condescending. Shut up already.

Scratch that. I want to hug, not be hugged. I want to feel comfort, not be comforted. On my terms.

I cannot see myself clearly. I cannot see myself honestly. I am lying to myself. I am hard on myself. I am downright cruel. I would not treat an enemy as I do myself.

Fear grips me too. Fear to move forward. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of being laughed at, ridiculed. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of being me. Fear to try. Fear. Simple. Fear.

I can’t deal with fear today. That’s too hard.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It will never be as bad as you imagine and it won’t be as good as you imagine. It’s usually somewhere in between.

I can talk myself out of trying. Easily.

Being sober. I am clinging to that. It is my life raft. I don’t have a desire to drink.

I drank to give myself moments of peace from the negative voices in my head. I drank to take a holiday from myself. It was my way of coping with being me.

I am living with fear. This fear I want to shake off. It is crusted and mouldy, there are layers upon layers of fear. Peeling layers replaced with glossy new ones. It is suffocating me.

Trying to open a window for my soul to breathe. But the window frame is painted shut. There are nails that need to be pried out. There are cobwebs. It is filthy.

I want to have a long soak in a bathtub. I cannot do that at the moment. I have a cast on my lower leg. A bath is out of the question. God I miss having a bath.

I have plugged the leaks of my eyes. In its place a headache has surfaced. Rest.

Rest.

I am so sick of resting. The simple act of taking a walk. I would love to do that. I am going stir-crazy from a month of rest. Damn this broken foot. That is the truth of it. This will pass.

Best Time of Day

I am observing myself closely and I don’t really know when my best time of day is.

Am I a morning person?

Am I a night owl?

Am I something in between?

For now I am not a morning person and I’m not a night owl. I think my best time is between 5-8pm. But I could be wrong. I will observe myself in the wild and come to some conclusion after a month of closely monitoring myself.

The fact that I am in bed recovering from a broken foot will make the experiment biased for sure. I like to think of myself as a night owl but that just wrecks me the next day. And for now I’m mending bones so I should get rest so the sensible thing is to get an early night.

Try telling that to my body. I want to sleep at 10am after having a full night’s sleep. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep till 3am. I am all over the show. Daylight saving has started already so I would like to get in sync with the sun. But let’s see how I really am rather that what I think I am.

How well do you really know your own body and routines. Are you living your best routine and timing?

I no longer drink so there’s no need to be up till the wee hours, right? Does creativity happen at 2am? Does it really? Or is 5am the. Magic hour? Or 7am? 1pm in the afternoon I am drowsy, or I have been lately. After food a nap seems like the best choice option. I don’t know.

It’s just after 5pm so off I go to draw. I’ve had my daily quota of licorice already today. Should have waited till after my drawing to consume but that didn’t compute today. We’ll tangle that carrot tomorrow.

And does the season change when your best time of day is? And does it depend on what activity you do? There are loads of variables. The weather, your mood, your appetite, your schedule, your life.

When is your best time of day?

Broken

I lie in bed with my leg elevated. Six weeks of rest, elevation, no weight allowed on my right foot. I am halfway through my stint. A broken tibia.

Forced inertia allows time for one time to think. And I have had plenty of time to think. It hasn’t driven me round the twist. I haven’t felt weak and reached for alcohol. Have you tried crutches lately? You cannot hold anything while walking with crutches. A backpack would help but a cup of tea you cannot carry. A thermos of tea, yes but not a cup of tea. The effort to sit up in bed relying on one foot only, the effort to get to the toilet, to go down steps. I cannot go up steps. That’s where my bottom comes in handy. I creep up steps, one by one on the seat of my bum, with a flat cushion and make it to the top.

Could my fitness have been better before the break? Yes. Would it have made getting about easier. Yes. That doesn’t help me now though. I am not great on crutches.

Let me interrupt and say this: New Zealand has excellent public medical service when it comes to broken bones. I paid NZ$40 for subsidised X-rays and NZ$35 for a subsidised GP appointment and the rest was paid for by the government. Which really means by the people and our taxes. I received a moon boot. There was a long wait in Accident & Emergency. New Zealand hospitals are understaffed and underpaid. Capacity of patients in winter is at 145%. They are busy. That doesn’t stop them from being both professional and caring. I was impressed. Yes I waited a long time but others who waited also waited patiently. I received a cast after more X-rays. And follow up appointments for out-patients.

For getting about home I have been loaned a toilet seat with handles and stability. A shower chair. And later a knee scooter. I had my own crutches. The shower chair actually sits beside the bed so it makes it easier to get up and standing. Who knew how hard it is to do everything on just one leg. I am humbled by my situation. I have time to recover. I do not have children to look after. DH has been an angel with fetching and carrying things for me to keep me fed, watered, amused and functioning.

All this time to think and I have not gone bat shit crazy. I appreciate this moment in time that I have been given. It is a glitch or a correction in my life. A time to reflect and look to the future and see how I can do better, plan better. I can write, draw, use my computer. I can hobble about the house. I cannot clean. I hate cleaning anyway. But that got me thinking. I deserve to live in a clean house. I can look at cleaning as self care. Take more pride in my surroundings and care more. Don’t listen to what I say here, watch what I actually do later. Hold me to what I said here later.

The doctor asked me if I wanted a knee scooter. I said no. Why? I didn’t know what it was and it didn’t sound stable. I was an idiot. When I rang support at ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), a government department, they suggested a knee scooter when I said how poorly I was managing on crutches. I said yes please. Not realising how helpful it would be. It was delivered to the house the next day. What a game changer. Mobility and stability with getting about. It has a basket on the front so I can carry things at the same time, The catch is, if the basket is on the front then it’s harder to turn. I ended up taking the basket off. Since having the knee scooter I can now do the laundry. I balance on my ‘bad’ leg which is supported by the knee, the breaks are on, with my ‘good’ leg firmly on the ground. I can lean down with the help of the handle bars. It allows me to function more normally. Rather than feeling useless and immobile I feel more independent and capable.

I can eat in the kitchen now for meals. I can turn the jug on. I can gather the placemats. I can do simple things. I can collect the yoghurt from the fridge, the muesli from the bench and the kiwifruit from the bowl. I can carry the knife, the bowl and the spoon in the basket and I can get my own breakfast. I still cannot carry a cup of tea.

I am not writing this for you to feel sorry for me. I am writing to voice how lucky I am. I didn’t need an operation with plates and screws. I can recover at home. I only have myself to look after and get well. DH looks after me. The cats have looked after me too. The public hospital system in New Zealand is excellent. I may have waited many hours for service but I was dealt with empathy, care and professionalism. I wish that others countries have the same level of care that we have here. My next cast will be renewed. My leg is getting skinnier. The cast feels roomier. That is life.

Everything takes longer at the moment but I have an appreciation for each thing or each action. I am lucky that this is temporary. I am grateful.