366. A goodbye

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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.

MINUS 3 days

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It will be a year in three days.  I will be – before that – writing a suggested ”breaking up with alcohol letter”.  I have read several and they are really interesting.  Something in me still says, not forever.  This is fine.  I can trust myself that maybe sometime in the future I will drink, but just not right now.

Right now it suits me, suits my marriage, suits my children, suits my future career, suits EVERYTHING that I don’t drink.

I may be repeating stuff – and those of you patient enough to have read through this year with me, may have heard it all before but…. those of you who are new….

I was a high bottom drinker.  My life was outwardly not very affected by drinking.  Yes, the loss of potential perhaps, but it was not terribly evident.  I had had no major major trauma from drinking.  I was not drinking every day and not getting totally pissed every time I drank.  But practically every time, I would wake up feeling somewhere, on a continuum, between mildly shit to deeply deeply miserable and almost unable to face the day.  Wishing that bedtime would come soon and that I could just run and hide from the world.  This intensified during the last year (of drinking) and it took me at least 6 months to take up a 100 day challenge.

I did this with abject terror.  I was so afraid of failing (again).  But I jumped in – ran and jumped and bought this website, signed up for big bucks, to a sober coach and paid all this before I could change my mind.  The first week was crappy, and slowly it got better and better.  There have been very very few days when I really want to drink.  The rest of the time I am in a little ball of bliss.

I look myself in the eye, I hold my head up high, I am proud of every decision I make, and face all my fucking shitty points with as much honesty as I can.  I cannot conceive of anything that would make me want to get back into Alcotraz.  I have escaped a life sentence.

If you are new, if you are struggling, write to me.  If you are on the road, and if you have relapsed, write to me.  If you cannot face the first day, write to me.

All the best xxx

 

Not my words

But brilliant…

COMMUNITY//

The Badge You’re Wearing That’s Sabotaging Your Life

The Shocking Truth About Overworking (& Other Compulsive Behaviors)
Kevin Carden - stock.adobe.com
Kevin Carden – stock.adobe.com

You’re sitting at your desk, looking at the clock.

You promised your partner you’d be done working three hours ago.

“I just have one more thing, and then I can be done,” you tell yourself.

Your hands fly across the keyboard. You’ve done it! You’re finally finished.

You run downstairs, excited for some quality time with your partner—but the lights are out and they’re asleep.

Another broken promise.

Another night without connecting.

And instead of taking stock of what just happened and creating a real plan to end the cycle of work-sleep-work-sleep-work, you tiptoe back upstairs, sit in front of your computer, and get back to it—because the call is just that strong.

Passionate. That’s what you are, right?

It’s passion that drives you, and there’s all of those valid reasons to keep running hard toward success.

You know what else that’s called?

Compulsion.

Addiction.

When your life, health, and relationships start to suffer because you can’t stop working, you’ve entered dangerous territory.

Addictions are not just relegated to drugs, alcohol, and substances. Addictions are compulsive behaviors people struggle to control and easily justify that deteriorate their quality of life over time. If you’ve found yourself wondering if you work too much, drink too much, or do anything else “too much” this article is for you.

Expert Sober Coach, Belle Robertson, is blowing three common myths about addiction wide open that have been keeping people like you stuck for far too long. If you’ve ever done something even though you knew it wasn’t a good idea or even if you didn’t really want to do it, pay attention.

Myth #1: You Have To Hit Rock Bottom Before You Can Recover

According to Belle, there are different types of bottoms people can experience. When you look up addiction, you hear horror stories of people losing their jobs, their homes, their families, and their sanity because of their specific compulsion. Because of this, addiction has taken on a particular mask in pop culture – to the degree that it has become easy to ignore the signs of addiction before your life bottoms out. These are called low bottoms.

Belle had a different type of bottom that you may not have heard about before—it’s called a high bottom.

Seven years ago, Belle was successful, self-employed, worked really hard, and only drank 2-3 drinks a night. By no stretch of the imagination would anyone have said that she had a drinking problem. There were no emotional outbursts. She was dependable. And even her relationships were solid. So she was sure that even though she wondered if she was drinking too much, she didn’t have addiction issue.

There was just one problem.

Belle found it very difficult to quit, and it was only in the not drinking that she realized how much she relied on it.

Good day — alcohol.

Bad day — alcohol.

Funeral — alcohol.

Wedding — alcohol.

Baby shower — alcohol.

“I need to do this thing and I can do it better if I’ve had a drink or two.”

It was in finding it difficult to quit that Belle did the one thing most people struggle with that keep these cycles worsening over time (which turn into the stereotype low bottom) — she asked for help.

Myth #2: You Have To Join AA, NA, or Another In-Person Anonymous Group To Heal

You’ve undoubtedly seen the musician stereotype portrayed in Hollywood. The talented person who went a little too hard when they were young, they got sober, then they start drinking out of a paper bag again (relapse!), they got into a car accident, and they inevitably ended up in AA.

Most people think AA is the only place to go for support with addictive behaviors. But ever since the tech boom with innovation at the forefront, other options have surfaced for people who want to shift their behavior.

When Belle was searching for help seven years ago, she stumbled upon some blogs for people looking to keep their anonymity and also get support and accountability to stop drinking, stop using, stop overworking, etc., without having to step foot in AA. Because, as Belle describes it, “No one goes to AA unless they have to.” This was a way for her to share everything she was thinking, feeling, and going through, without fear because it was 100% anonymous.

Now, as a Sober Coach, Belle has a list of over 60 tools to help people overcome their addictions, and AA is only one of them. She supports others in finding the unique blend of those tools that work for them.

Myth #3: You Have To Stop Whatever Your Addictive Behavior Is Right Now, As If It’s Forever

Try to stop eating ice cream for a couple days. That might not be so bad. But if you were told you can never have ice cream again…that might make you want to cut somebody and hold up a 7-Eleven to get the latest release of banana split dippin dots.

Scarcity can initiate desire. So if you’re struggling with saying no to something in the first place, it may not be the best plan to say you’re going to cut it out forever starting — NOW!

That would be hard on anyone, let alone someone experiencing an addiction.

As Belle describes, you can start with something smaller, like a 100-day sober challenge. It’s becoming more and more socially acceptable for people to “be on a cleanse” or to outright choose not to drink. Starting with a 100-day sober challenge allows you to see how you feel, how your body reacts, and what life is like without whatever your addictive behavior was. If things are getting better, it’s easier to choose to keep going, especially when you have accountability and support behind you.

So if you’ve been struggling with behaviors like overworking, drinking too much, or finding yourself sucked into something repeatedly—even if it’s hurting other areas of your life—click here to join Belle’s email list or click here to listen to Belle’s short one-minute audio messages, so you can add some tools and insights on how to create a life grounded in choice over compulsion.

354. This time last year

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I was revving up to the big 100 day challenge.  Over the years I have heard about, listened to and seen people who did not drink for a year.  I myself had done three months twice, and had a couple of kids which gave me about two years no drinking in 32 or 33.

Anyway, I had heard about these amazing people and thought, there is not a bloody hope in hell I could do that.  Because there is always a reason to have a drink.  And a drink, turns into another drink, maybe not that day but certainly in the few days after.  I was always full of good intentions, but they went nowhere.

I, standing on the cusp of deciding to stop for 100 days, felt the challenge was impossible. But I was determined.  I, in my dreams, thought about one year round the sun – see my early blogposts.  But that was a seemingly unobtainable feat.  Something others could do and not me.

Yet here I am 11 days away from a year off the sauce!  It has flown past.  I have adored it.  Not every single day is a day that you LOVE being AF.  There have been about three days (in a year) that I thought ”f*ck this” but did not act on it.  That is less than 1/100th of the time.  I regret nothing.  Except that I did not do this years ago.

It is beyond doubt the best thing I have done for myself, my family and my mental health.  I read this :

News Flash!!!!  Sobriety - no longer just for alcoholics!!!  

I definitely did not consider myself one.  Just someone for whom drinking was taking away more than it gave.

If I can do this, I can do anything.

Hello life!!!!

350. Ticking on down ….

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The countdown in on in my head.  It is 15 days – two weeks basically – to a YEAR since I stopped drinking alcohol.  I am very happy.  It has been a tough few weeks for me mentally.  I have been dealing with a stressful situation… Caused by alcohol… not by me drinking however, so that is a bonus.

My last blog post about the merry-go-round came out of that stress.  I had been so angry at how alcohol can f*ck up lives and just waste so much time, energy, money, talent and the list goes on.  It is a bollocks waste of everything.  But I need to realise that people can choose to drink, do choose to drink and really I need people to drink…. because it reminds me of why I don’t!!!

Thanks for reading along with me for the year.  I am developing my merry-go-round analogy.  It is, for me, a totally useful way of thinking about the futile round-about that we can get stuck on.  It is useful for me to remember that it is a con.  Yes, there are people for whom alcohol is a take it or leave it thing.  I am not one of those people.  I will drink again (maybe) when I am in my sixties.  But for now, life is unfolding like a flower and I am too busy to be hungover.

Byee and love to you.

Barbs

340. The Merry-Go-Round.

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In every country, every town, and even every village… there is. a merry-go-round.  The music is bewitching, the rides are bright, shiny and beguiling.  It looks like fun and sun and carefree joy!  This merry-go-round has a Ringmaster and Ringmistress… Methyl and Ethyl.  they keep their little animals in tip top condition, really appealing to passersby.  They have prancing ponies, Sauvignon and Merlot.  The Heineken horses leap alongside, the Limoncello Lipazanas.  You have the carthorses, Port and Sherry.  And the little whisky dancers and Frisky and Misty.  There are many other animals on this fairground ride.  Some even as yet to be discovered.

The music is cheery, the crowds swarm in and take their rides.  Day in day out hoisting their bodies into the comfy saddles.  Some come in very early, some only at sundown, and some only at weekends.  But come they do because this is fun at its best.  You see parents calling out to children, come on, get on!!! Join us.  Some friends stand hesitantly at the edges of the ride.  Should they leap on or should they stay off?  And the music winds up, and Ethyl and Methyl take their takings ching ching ching, its not cheap this ride.  The money racks up…  People do not want to get off… They come when they want to celebrate, they come when they want to commiserate, they come for summer, they come for winter, they come because they are lonely, they come because they want to fit in.  They make up reasons to get on there because the ride has them in its clutches.

The sun goes down, the music ramps up, the ride spins faster and faster.  Somewhere by the Heineken horses a couple have started to fight.  She is crying and he is shouting.  By the Shetland pony, ”Shots” a young boy has started to vomit.  The Merlot mares have two people passed out underneath their hooves.  The gaiety is starting to get a hard edge.  The music is no longer enchanting, it is positively hypnotic.  The fights get more frequent, the laughter is no longer warm. It is manic.  The happy scene of earlier is replaced by a debauched panorama.  Someone trying to get off, someone else holding their arm, screaming,  ”But its my birthday, stay and ride!!!”.

This merry-go-round has its patrons by the scruffs of their necks.  After the carnage that occurs night after night many people don’t want to go back.  But by the time the end of the day comes and the music starts once again. The ponies and. horses are washed down and shiny.  Innocent and happy.  They think, oh why not?  It’s sunny today, just for ONE ride……

TO BE CONTINUED.

338. Chugging along

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This is what it feels like at the moment.  I am chugging along.  I go through tunnels occasionally, I go uphill, I go downhill, I go past beaches and boats, past gardens and castles and all over on my adventure.  But I do not run out of steam.  Because I could easily do so.  I need to listen, email, get treats, and just see the general shit that comes out of drinking too much – this hopefully keeps me on track.  Full steam ahead.

WordPress automatically renewed my blog site.   I’m sure I was warned. But now I am going to keep going for another year.  I guess the direction of the writing might change a little.  This is a blog for me, and for accountability.  If you read it from time to time, and I don’t know you, please say hi!

It is hot, it is summer, everyone seems to be drinking and having a general jolly.  It does not matter what is in my glass, I can still join in.

Happy heat!!!