A Booze Free Life Is Better

I just commented on a Living Sober post that alcohol will add nothing a family dinner. I feel like I can say that because as some of you know I have been having (albeit very far and few between) wines. And it has added NOTHING.

So why bother at all? Partly because I haven’t found an AF drink I particularly enjoy yet but I will keep trying. And, what side of the fence am I on? Definitely the AF one. I just don’t see what the big fuss around alcohol is about. It doesn’t make things more fun. It didn’t make me more relaxed, in fact it had the opposite affect. Instead of giving me confidence, it actually ended up shredding any I had! Along with dignity, self respect and self love.

To anyone struggling, keep on being AF. Life is SO much better without it!

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Evocative VIDEO – Kiwi tastes a golden nugget

Powerful.

Notice the buzz quickly becomes a buzzkill. Notice the change in demeanour. Notice the change in his body shape. Notice how dark it gets…

…what this powerful video doesn’t show is life after kicking the nugget.

I can’t do it justice, but life after the nugget-chasing is incredible and very much worth it.

A weekend away with my TRIBE

I’m just back from an amazing weekend away with strangers. Well, not exactly strangers, but people I met online. Sounds dodgy, doesn’t it? 

The website Living Sober isn’t just for “alcoholics”. It’s a place for anyone who is sick of drinking as much as they have been. So whether that’s a daily habit from sun-up to sun-down, or whether it’s the party, binge drinker (like me), it’s a terrific site with a common thread of wanting to live healthier lives.

So we decided to meet offline.

  
Photo Credit: Lotta Dann aka Mrs D

Lotta put it this way: “connecting like minded people around the globe in pursuit of happiness”. Perfect.

I’ve met a lot of new people. I’m socially awkward but didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable for a second amongst this lot. There’s an instant connection bonding us together. The word “tribe” was used a lot by many different people over the weekend. And finally, at age 40 I feel like I BELONG.

an unwanted but perfected skill

  
Boom!

Since I’ve knocked alcohol on the head, I’ve been reflecting on the reasons WHY I drank booze in the first place. I’ve learned a lot about myself and now know the core reason, underpinning everything, is that I was an emotional drinker. I’m beginning to turn my attention to the relationship I have with food because I’m getting frustrated over-eating. I’m experiencing the same negative side affects from binge-eating that I experienced after binge-drinking – the self loathing, regret, guilt etc. 

It always comes down to escape. I want to get away from reality for a while. I set myself up on the couch, in front of terrible telly, with either chocolate or cheese and crackers and ‘check out’ for a while. I don’t have any particular trauma to escape from. I’m a fairly normal person, a bit of a deep thinker, but I’ve never been physically or sexually abused or experienced something nasty enough to justify the need for escape.

I’m not sure what to write next, because I don’t have the answers. I know the why (I over-drank and over-eat) but what’s the why behind wanting to escape? Maybe it’s natural? Maybe everyone wants to check out of reality for a while? I feel like if I know the deeper why, then I can stop over-eating. But then I managed to stop drinking alcohol relatively easy, so why can’t I release my grip on food so easily? 

There is more work to be done here. Forever learning. 😀

WG

Loosening the straitjacket 

I don’t know exactly what happened. One minute I was nonchalantly listening to this podcast by the guys at addiction recovery site, Since Right Now. The next minute I was experiencing a breakthrough. A breakthrough which I am going to try and make sense of below! 

I grew up with loving parents and when I say loving, I mean I know deep down they loved me. But my version of love is somewhat different to their version of love. I was raised with very little affection, a lot of criticism, and emotional abuse. I was raised by two parents who were working too hard to make ends meet to have time, patience and energy left over for their daughter. There was a lot of anger in our house while I was growing up. I had two, much older brothers, and they were hitting their ragamuffin teens as I was starting school and beginning to notice and absorb the environment around me.   

The overall message I received as a child, was that I was insignificant. It was openly joked that I was an ‘accident’. My mother’s pregnancy with me must have been an extremely stressful time for her because she found out she had breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy. What a rocky start with your third, unplanned child! Growing up, nothing I did was good enough. Anything I did right, was brushed over, if acknowledged at all. Any mistakes I made growing up was leaped on and became the focus, and I was lectured on all that I did wrong. I knew all this before becoming a parent. It wasn’t the greatest childhood, but it wasn’t the worst. What I didn’t know, was how it could be any better. I couldn’t know what was missing. After all, I didn’t know, what I didn’t know. Until becoming a parent myself. 

After the birth of my first child, I had this overwhelming feeling of an exciting but scary opportunity to get it right. To parent differently than how I was parented. However, I found it seriously difficult because, I knew I didn’t want to continue the type of parenting I’d received, but I didn’t know what the alternative was! Which left me floundering.  And left me repeating the very patterns I wanted to break because they were my default settings. And as a control freakish, perfectionist, Type A person, this was unsettling to the extreme. How could I get this parenting thing ‘right’, if I didn’t know what ‘right’ was?!  

The very moment I became a mother, I reflected deeply on the parenting I’d received and became very angry. All the wounds I had experienced throughout my childhood bubbled to the surface to be treated. All those insecurities and fears of getting it wrong confronted me. The very moment I became a mother, I immediately felt insignificant and inadequate all over again. 

Now, ten years on since becoming a mother, I have come to learn what the alternative is. I now know that love to me means affection, guidance, encouragement, security, and mistakes are ok, they are simply opportunities for growth. Becoming a mother didn’t solve my wounds from my upbringing like I naively thought, it exposed them. 

So motherhood made me see myself for who I was. And it was unsettling. I didn’t like looking at myself and questioning the way I was raised. It hurt. So I turned to an escape from these unsettling and painful feelings – wine. Motherhood altered the way I treated alcohol and once I discovered its escapism, I turned to drink as a crutch whenever faced with challenges. A subtle, slow and sinister shift. 

When I became a mum I grew depressed. When I became sober I grew depressed. Both are significant milestones in my life that stripped back, have exposed the same wounds to be treated. The first time, I didn’t know what love meant to me. So I followed the same path my parents showed me, that love is criticism, impatience and frustration. The possibility of treating my wounds was there, but I wanted to escape the flawed me, so I turned to drink. 

In sobriety, I have begun treating my wounds, with the same love I now parent with. Parental love and self love is kindness, patience and acceptance. I don’t always, and won’t always get it ‘right’. And that’s ok, because with mistakes comes growth.

Like motherhood, sobriety forced me to acknowledge my wounds. Both sent me into a tailspin. Only this time, it is in recovery, I am healing them. What a gift.

WG

*** 

Footnote: Also, I have also realised while writing this, my relationship with my SIL is similar to the relationship I had with my parents. She left me with the same feelings of insignificance, inadequacy and insecurity. As an adult, I found myself in a similar relationship to one as a child…I suspect there is more wound healing with this realisation!!

Day 130 Treats

  
Today I wake up happy, again. This has been going on for the past two or three mornings.

Those of you who know what I’ve been going through the past eight months or so with a family conflict, will know that waking up happy is obviously a turning point. I think the extra time and the enforced slowing down thanks to the school holidays has given me a chance to catch my breath. It has also meant I haven’t had to see “that SIL” every day, and the distance has been lovely. 

As I celebrate 130 days AF I’m fully confident I will never drink again. How can I be so sure? Because I now see it for what it is. Mind-altering, toxin and sugar loaded junk. Yuck. No thanks. I no longer envy others with their glass of wine. I no longer want that sh*t in my body! 

  
To treat myself for this sober achievement, I have purchased three books:

1) The Girl on the Train

2) Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

3) A Secret Garden (adult colouring book!)

As I anticipate their delivery, I have to say, the biggest treat of all, is seeing the real me come up to the surface. The real me is quite shy, definitely introverted, sometimes serious but definitely witty and up for making life fun. Watching the real me emerge is just so rewarding. I’m so kind, compassionate, loving and patient! I’m becoming the wife and mum I always wanted to be. It was always there, but drowning internally from wine toxins and toxic people I surrounded myself with. 

It’s like wearing an outfit you’re not comfortable wearing but other people like it, so you, the quintessential people pleaser, keep it on. Eventually it wears you down, gets exhausting and burdensome. I’m stripping off other’s expectations and stepping into the real me. 

Now that is my idea of the best sober treat ever.

WG

School Holidays

  
^ That used to be me. I always drank more during school holidays. I was so tense, uptight and cranky and blamed it on having the kids home all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the school holidays but come Friday, I couldn’t wait for hubby to get home so I could wind down…or rather wine down (the neck)!

Now I don’t drink anymore, I really really LOVE the school holidays! I’m so much calmer and waaaaay more loving and kind than before. And my patience is never ending compared to before! 

So the first week is down. All we have done is gone to two movies, got the obligatory haircuts and had a play date. The rest of the time we have been doing zilch! It’s been so lovely. I’ve got some good, fun and interesting outings planned for next week. And I want to tidy and de clutter the house…not so fun!

Anyone else noticed changes within themselves and/or moods since not drinking?