Let us begin

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Here we are on the verge. At the doorway of a new year. It is the time that we can wipe the slate clean, turn our backs on the grubbiness of the past. Sweep down our floors, throw away the old wrapping paper, last of the cake, turkey carcass and face the New Beginning with hope. We need these new beginning hope signals. We need the ‘stepping-through-a door-into-a-new-reality” feeling that New Year gives.

But I have a secret. This is available to us at any time. We can, every moment of every day quietly rummage through the rubbish, keep the carcass for stock, fold up the wrapping paper to reuse (put it carefully in the wrapping paper and accoutrements box) and throw out what is not useful, and go into the next part of THE DAY with the same newness and swept down-ness that we feel at the beginning of a year. We can close the door on what did not serve us, be it an attitude, an action or a thought….

We can take stock, eat the cake and wash the dish. Put it away and clear the decks…. at any moment we choose. And indeed for a sane life perhaps we should do this. I am resolving to put a marker in the day. Not at the beginning, for I have my things I do then, but DURING the day. I can start again then. I can use what has hurt me, what has annoyed me, what has bored me, as fuel to do it differently that very same day. I can go through the door to the next part of the day.

All this required deliberate living. I am not good at deliberate living. I am the type to let life happen to me. That is my natural bent… but I also have something in me that has started awakening to the fact that we build our lives ourselves. It is empowering to know we have the tools and possibility to create and structure (to a certain extent only – we are not in complete control luckily and sadly) a life that is good for us.

You can live more deliberately when you are not hungover. When you LIKE yourself. When you have energy.

Make it the year that you build the way you need to… hour by hour….

Love to you all.

872. Seasonal Merriment

Tra la la

Here we are again at the end of the year! I love this time of year, because basically I am a hedonist and love the excuse to eat any kind of food at any time, because its Christmas. And I also love this time of year because it is an excuse to wind down, get cosy, put fairy lights up, bake and make nice smells in the kitchen and review the year. So food is very important to me! And it used to be that drink was too! I used to spend the end of the year exhausting myself with constant drinking occasions. There was one every night as friends tried to get their invites for Christmas drinks in. I can still do those (well… the lockdown shitty thing is trying to intervene of course) and do them without the exhaustion that comes from filling my body up with too much booze and then getting up the next day, jumping on the Christmas treadmill and doing it all again the next night. Holy shite it was exhausting.

And we need to not be exhausted. We more than ever, need to be full and energetic. We need to be full of hope and light, because if we are full of hope and light we can give some of the stuff away. There is enough negativity and shit to sink 10 ships, and we are not going to be part of that.

Christmas is about being reminded. Reminded that the universe turns on love. Love is synonymous with energy, inclusivity, generosity, expanding and giving, laughter, relaxation, peace, simplicity… we need these things and now we need them desperately.

So enjoy this time of year if you can. Eat, give away food, cook, and be merry. Because a hungover hedonist cannot have enough to give any away. So be full this Christmas, find out what makes your tank of light and energy full and DO IT.

Merry merry

836. Wisdom from Belle

As some of you know I became a non-boozer thanks to Belle – tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com and I think her wisdom sees me and will see me through many years. I am thus adding a little excerpt of things for all stages – thanks to her. Sorry to those who get her emails already and this is a repeat…

Road to Soberville (day 663): “… a conversation I had with my dad the other evening that made me realize how far I’ve come. he was bemoaning an upcoming dry wedding — really at a loss for how the heck he’ll get through it without booze. I was that person, 100%. I told my dad that while I know he wouldn’t believe me, alcohol actually detracts from the fun. This discovery still blows my mind! There I was, all of those years drinking to enhance the fun. Now I know I was only enhancing the rate at which I was fading into twilight. All I have to do now is see a friend on their third drink and observe how their spark dims–the twinkle in their eye evaporates. that was me, too. and now? now I sparkle at all times, unless I’m tired and cranky and then I go to bed early and try for a better day the next day 🙂 or I eat some cookies 🙂 but I never fade to twilight. I stay here.” [update: she’s on day 1463 today!]

~

Auntie Briggy: “Hi Belle – I didn’t make it through the weekend and have to leave for a week of drinking in beautiful [northeast united states]. I am spiritually trying to understand why I keep sabotaging what I want with [that man i’m not dating], and booze. I think I have a spiritual deficit. I’ll be back in touch when I can believe in a real day 1.”

me: it’s not a character flow to be addicted to an addictive substance. there isn’t self-sabotage. there is addiction. it is helped with support external to you, medication, meetings, accountability. it’s not you doing this to you. this is booze doing this to you. I’m here. hugs

~

Lottie (day 35): “I love that you have strong boundaries around your weekends, holidays and creative time, Belle (sincerely, not sarcasm in case that comes across wrong in writing). I love people with good boundaries because (a) I don’t have to dance around them trying to figure out if I am pissing them off or not because I know they will be honest about what they want/need, not expect me to guess. And (b) people who HAVE good boundaries tend also RESPECT other people’s boundaries. I never learned that I was allowed to have boundaries. My kids are definitely learning it. Addicts, I think, tend to be very bad at boundaries, [we] don’t have them and [we tend not to] respect them. Low self respect. Anyway just my thoughts going wild on a Sunday.” [update: she’s on day 41 today]

832. Excavations

Hello out there! We are back in lockdown in France and UK. But the world does seem a more hopeful place …. with Biden coming in – sorry about if you disagree politically with me – and with the potential vaccine … I feel an extra spring in my step.

I have been watching an Egyptian archaeology thing on Netflix with my son, and it has made me think.

When we take the time to quietly dig down into ourselves – daily preferably – but any time will do… To dig down into ourselves with the intention of honestly examining what is down there, then we will be able to sift out what is shit and useless and look at what is true treasure.

I could do this when I was drinking, sure. But I did not do anything with consistency.

Now I can daily do a dust down, and a dig around and an honest appraisal of what made me glad or what dragged me down. I can hand things over mentally to the place where things I do not need can go. I can accept the things that make me who I am and decide what to concentrate on keeping or what to let go of.

I can do this in a consistent enough manner to keep me calm and measured. To allow me to respond and not to react to every little thing that I see as ”blocking” my way.

Consistency means turning up every day with an open mind and heart, ready to sift and notice. This is such a gift.

Hope you are all well.

Bye xxx

813. Pink fluffy landmarks

I have definitely done pink fluffy clouds before…. And they deserve another mention. They are not a totally every day occurrence. They are more like a general air about the place. I have slowly but surely…. over the 813 booze free days that I have lived…..installed some points into my life. In French the word is repères – if I am not mistaken with the accents… this means landmarks or points along a way to show the way. I have been thinking about these repères a lot. The word landmarks does not quite cover it for me… but my thoughts were along the lines of this.

When we have the head space and inner calm that comes from longer term sobriety we can really put down points in our hours, days and thus lives upon which we can build. They give our lives a shape and a structure. One of these landmark repère things is my morning routine. I have built this in slowly and it is now fairly established. Up early (because I can) have my meditation/silence… write my journal or morning pages (thanks Julia Cameron from Artists Way) and once that is done I put my gorgeous coffee on the stove and it takes about 10 minutes to brew, during which time I do my little made up by me yoga stretches.

This is such a good set up for my day. It is a point around which I can work. It clears my head, does some inner housekeeping if you like, and then I am stretched (tick trying to look after body after 50 especially because I have largely ignored that for a most of my adult life) I then enter the day feeling really good.

I am sure that having a ”practice” of sorts makes for the pink fluffy clouds that I feel around me most of the time. I promise to say (and usually do) when this is not the case. But there is a groundedness and peace that comes from starting my day like this.

If want to think more about making landmarks or repères around which we build to give our lives shape. I want to live a shaped life that is deliberate. I spent so many years winging it (though to be fair I still wing certain things) and just kind of hanging in there. Now I feel that I am more in charge. Not in control you understand… an impossible thing… but just taking charge and responsibility.

There we are those are my thoughts for today. Thanks to the new subscribers… And hi to you all

Love me.

791. Stationary bike vs free bike

Hello all! I am 9 days away from 800 days. I am so grateful. I was thinking the other day that while I was drinking life was not a huge train wreck 100% of the time. It was a good life and I did get some stuff done and achieved and so on… but I always had this feeling I was pedalling away at 90 miles/hour getting nowhere very fast. Always playing catch up… always just behind this self-imposed drag curve.

Not drinking is like this. I am on a big white bike with a comfy saddle. I have a basket on the front, and I have great gears. There is a little set of bike balls hanging off the back to signal my presence in the dark. The tyres are pumped, the bike is clean and I am sailing along on my trusty steed.

It is that different.

I can get up early EVERY SINGLE day. I feel literally energetic EVERY SINGLE day. I am getting so much done, I am generally very reliable. I have money in my pocket (and a tiger in my tank) and I’m king of the road again!

Try it.

777. Seems like a jackpot

I am feeling the fallout around me from booze. Friends, strangers, family ….having the life doused out of them because of booze. it’s insane grip is very hard to shake off. Stealing the best from the people in its thrall. Just do it with all the support you can lay your hands on. Let go for a short committed time.

776. Small flames

We cannot know the huge reality. We can only use words and metaphors to describe our experience and then see if these are common with others and in this way try to make sense of our worlds, inner and outer.

I think that within every living thing is this spark of life. Call it what you will, Spirit, God, Chi, Third Eye and so on. But it is there. In me it is a little flame and a little tiny seedling. It is not easy to access this little piece of the whole of reality that is really us. But we can be aware of it. Certain things spark it up. When certainly know when it is activated. This little seedling is our True Self. The Self that has nothing to do with outward appearance, what we have gained in terms of wealth or not gained. How well we did at school, or not. Our jobs, our status in our community etc. Those are our outer shell if you like. This inner life is there inside every human (I’d say every living thing but because I am a human I can only speak from this perspective).

Over-drinking can never put this out or totally drown the seedling, but it makes it very difficult to grow that part of ourselves.

All my drinking days I had this tiny knock, knock, knock on my heart. Sometimes barely discernible, sometimes loud and insistent. “Drink less, leave the stuff alone, drink less, put it down. Stop“. And when I say all my drinking days, I mean it. I have diaries from 17, 18 years old where the issue raised its head. It was my Chi (if you like) the Real Me, trying to tell me my Truth. I was never a content over-drinker. I was restless and uneasy in my role, yet I ploughed on and on too afraid to let it go.

When we stop dowsing, squashing, drowning the little Voice, the Chi, the Holy Spirit, it can get some air and we can feed it. And it can grow. And what controls us can change. And we can be free.

Happy Sunday.

757. Goodbye letter. Dear John….

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I wrote the following about a year after I stopped drinking.  I came across it on the website that publishes these kind of letters.  It is still relevant.  Even though I can honestly say, hand on heart, I still don’t think I was an alcoholic.  I was someone who just did not stop easily.  Sometimes I did, but often not.  I think I put it up before… not sure.  But worth another read.

Dear Alcohol,

Well this is it.  I wanted to say a proper goodbye.  I’ve not seen you for a year now, and to be honest, I have not missed you.  We’ve been together for years.  Right back in those early days, when I was sixteen, you were there.  Alongside me helping me numb my sorrows about the folks’ divorce.  You helped me, at the time, it seemed so anyway.  You were my little shot of funny.  My tot of confidence and don’t give a shit-ness that I needed to navigate my late teens.

I got so used to you.  We used to see each other almost daily, from when I was eighteen onwards.  You went with me to nightclubs, my right-hand man. You gave me courage and confidence in the evenings, but the mornings were when you dulled my life, and tainted my waking up.

We carried on, all the way through meeting my Chris, you were there.  You were a big part of our relationship and you were with us most of the time we were together.  You were the main event at our family gatherings.  The one that everyone wanted there if a good time was to be had.  You were the centre of attention.  The main ingredient for sport, fun, relationships… anything.  Just add you and the magic started.

You were at our wedding, revving me up and giving the hilarity an edge.  I still have traces of you on my wedding dress. You are there for good.  The next day though, I was absolutely floored by the after effects of your presence.  You left your mark, lethargy, nausea, misery.  That was your calling card.  Time and time again you took more than you gave.

I tried to manage our contact, yours and mine.  I tried to ignore you for days at a time, weeks and months even.  I loved being away from you… but you always came back, whispering, promising the world.  Trying to make me believe I could not be without you.

I loved you, I really did.  You made me feel funny and young and beautiful.  Carefree and invincible.  You took the edge off my distress, you heightened my senses, made me relaxed and chilled out. But you also robbed my potential. You took the best of me and left me with the emptiness.  You stole happiness from ‘’tomorrow’’ countless times over the years.  And though you made out that you were helping me to be funny, sexy, outgoing and so on, you were a liar.  The connections made while you were around could be totally fake.  There were friends I could only be with in your presence, and without you we had nothing to say.  You lied to us all.  We are not braver with you.  We are not funnier with you.  Perhaps you break the ice… but usually you end up breaking the links that forge us. Locking us in our own world.

I thought I would miss you over the year.  I was scared to be without you.  But I love your absence.  Your departure has opened up many things for me.  The future seems full of potential.  I choose to go to bed the way I want to.  I choose to wake up feeling amazing.  With you there was a gloss of shame, a loss of integrity, a nagging feeling of wasting time.  I won’t say there have not been times when I want you back.  I want you taking that edge off my irritation.  I want you so I can feel like I fit in with the crowd, but those moments are nothing compared to the way I can look myself in the eye every day and feel proud of me.

You never caused me any major trouble, but just a steady chip chip chip away at what was the best in me.  Goodbye for now.  Maybe forever, who knows?  But definitely for now.  You have your uses, but they are shallow and short lived.  You have nothing to give me that I cannot get without you.  Goodbye.

 

2 years and 3 days.

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i got HERE.  i GOT here.  I got here.  The terrified me.  The panic-ing me.  The ”my life is over if I don’t drink” me… we are here.  Thanks to those who read my blog, who supported me with lovely messages…

I think for me the most important thing I have learned, the one thing that I want to take away more than any other… is that I now CHOOSE how my day turns out.  Before, I was at the mercy of circumstance.  Maybe it would turn into a big night… maybe not…. I now don’t have that worry hanging over me.  I am choosing how I go to bed, and subsequently HOW I wake up.  My life has an intentionality about it now that it is not left to random chance, roll of the dice of how rough I was going to feel the next day.

I choose life.

Contrary to thinking my life being over, my life is more productive, thought out, full, satisfying and connected than ever before.

TWO YEARS and counting.  I don’t think I’ll go back.

So grateful.