299. Happy number.

Hang in there.

Unknown.jpeg

Hello fellow humans:-  drinkers, lurkers, non-drinkers, normals, hopefuls, failures… all of us are one or other of the above and maybe more!

Tomorrow I can type:

It has been:

  • 300 days of waking up really well
  • 300 days of feeling proud of myself at some stage in the day
  • 300 days of no regrets
  • 300 days of being poison free
  • 300 days of no hangover
  • 300 days of having to deal with my emotions really just me
  • 300 days of discovering that actually it is possible that you can live without alcohol

I want to encourage you if you are struggling.  I never IN A MILLION YEARS thought I could type the above.  It is not possible to go into this ‘letting-go thing’ thinking long-term.  It is too frightening, too final, just too much for our brains to cope with.  Hence the one day at a time.  It is not a desperate ”hanging in there” it is a calm fun one… like the picture above 😉

I would be lying if I said I did not fantasise about drinking ONE DAY.  I do think/dream/ruminate upon the idea of going back.  I imagine going back to wine when I am 65.  Then I realise that some of my good friends are 60 soon (you know who you are) and realise that actually it is not that old!!!  So I may extend that to 70!  Or I may drink sooner?  But I do know that without DAILY maintenance on my sober life I will go back.  There is no question.  It is a daily topping up of the sober fuel tank.  If I go a few days without doing that the impression grows slightly that I COULD drink, it would be okay no?  Hmmmm slippery slope.

The thought of going a year without alcohol is no longer this terrifying thought.  It is something I just shrug and say to myself, wow!  I hope I can put up a great before and after picture on the FB page!  TBH my before and afters are not that dramatic… I had a high bottom when I opted out of the booze escalator.  But still, I can see the brightness and steadiness in my eyes.  And I know that I can look in the mirror straight into my eyes and not want to hide.

I am definitely going to explore more, the THING IS NOT IN THE THING.  I will do more blogs, even if it is just for me.  And tbh it is mostly for me, there is not a massive amount of activity on my page!  But if you do tap in, say hi?  I am often surprised at the countries represented!

Hugs to you all

Barbs x

282. Coolest number

Unknown.jpeg

It has been a good while since I posted.  TBH I am quite sure nearly nobody reads these apart from a few friends 😉  This is quite fine with me, as I am a little shy about people I know well reading my life…. I guess that is what governs what I say!

The fact of not drinking has become normal now.  There are times when I think just one half a glass?  It would be so easy, and its so and so’s birthday and there is champagne…. and maybe if I only ever drank champagne – that could be my new rule… Those thoughts zoom so fast through my mind all the above took about quarter of a second to think… The thoughts caused no angst whatsoever.  I recognised them for what they were – the old bargaining with booze voice… but the voice had no power to make me feel left out or sad or missing something.  Because I know the following facts:

  • One drink, one half a glass is SUCH a waste of time for me.  A real not worth it affair.  I would want a few more than that if I was going to drink.
  • I know that I would be mired in regret if I drank.  I know the propensity I have for disappointing myself and I don’t want to go there.  I hate being disappointed in myself.  I love being proud of myself.
  • There are very very very very few people in the world who are good at moderating.  I am talking about people for whom alcohol is important… For people who could genuinely take it or leave it, I cannot say.  But for most of the over-drinkers of the world (more people than we would imagine) the real moderators are rare.  In my time (I spend not waste) on the internet I come across variations of the same theme:

For all of those pondering about having a drink this weekend, thinking they could possibly moderate because they’ve gone so long & they’ve got this – don’t! A month ago I thought the same, a month ago my house was gleaming, today it’s a mess! A month ago I was enjoying my garden, today it’s a jungle! A month ago I was on top of my finances for the first time in years, today my house is littered with unopened letters! Everything is a mess. It’s a fast slippery slope that ruins everything. Sat here with the shakes wondering when I will find my day one again because this is no life
Don’t give in to that wine bitch!
Soul bared

I read this time and time and time and time again.

The only solution is distance from day one.  For me, (obviously I can only speak for myself), so for me:  distance from the last drink re-carves my brain, re -wires it’s pathways neurologically to think in other ways.  Little drinks in-between stopped this re-wiring or halted this re-wiring which was why it was hard when I constantly relapsed.  For me relapsing set me back to square one.  The good done by the re-wiring of new ways of thinking was overwritten again by the drink.  The futility of the action seems underlined.  Why bother when I won’t stay stopped?  Why bother when I just cannot NOT let myself down.  And so the spiral goes.

If you are sick of trying to try then I suggest that you run run run as far away as possible from day one.  Tell yourself you can drink if you have 24 hours solid reflection on the action before you do it.  And then get people around you who will talk some sense into you as much as you really don’t want to hear it.

The fight is real.  But it gets softer and softer.

270. The Thing

Unknown-2.jpeg

I am nearly three quarters of a year sober.  Good Lord.  Who would have thought.  I have recently been fantasising about future drinking.  Wondering if I should drink around my 50th birthday (and sons’ 21st).  Wondering if I am now a dull socialite now that I am not on the booze.  It is a very tricky thing alcohol.  And I realise that so far in, you can forget how you felt hungover.  You can see the rational people (and the piss heads) you know EASILY and swiftly pouring alcohol into their heads without a thought, without a worry.  And it seems at times like I may have been too drastic.  I have conversations with my treasured child and hear their slight panic over the silent pressure on them that my non drinking exerts.  Drinking is rooted and engrained in our lives to such an extent that I am not sure it will ever be uprooted.  And in my less joyous moments can think, well why should it?

It does not take long, if you stick close to sober supports to remember that it causes carnage and horror in so many lives.  It seems innocent, but then turns and steals.  The reason for this post is that I really want to be honest.  It is not always easy and beautiful to be sober.  You feel sometimes like the outcast, like the boring one.  I need to realise that this is not true.  I choose how I go to bed.  I choose how I wake up.  I have not spent fourteen euros on one gin and tonic!  I absolutely love it.  For me it is good to realise something about THE THING.

Belle recently posted a podcast called the Thing is not in the Thing.  And it really rang true for me.  You see, I can be tricked into thinking that the fun, the celebration, the inclusiveness, the camaraderie we feel is in the actual glass.  We crave fun, celebration, being included and camaraderie.  Those are the things all of us would like.  Unless we are very introverted.  OK, rephrase.  Those are the things I would like.  We have been told by society and advertising (the booze industry needs everyone to agree and believe in this) that this all resides in that glass.  And when we raise it to our lips with our nearest and dearest (and our friends and others) we somehow enter into the bond of fun, camaraderie, inclusiveness and celebration.  Alcohol equals fun, camaraderie, being included, bonding, celebration, fun.

REALLY?

Am I still believing this?  I guess on occasion I do.  I think that it is vital to remember that this is the most lucrative lie of our times.  The truth is…. Alcohol destroys lives.  Ruptures relationships.  At the best it just helps people not to face their issues, helps to gloss over things which, when faced could be life changing in a positive way.

The comfort we need…. the soothing of irritation, the blotting out of misery, the warm calmness we crave…. when we are really really out of sorts for whatever reason…. does not reside in a liquid.  We need to be creative in facing the discomfort and seeing what it has to teach us, however painful that may be.  And we need to be creative in finding soothing things which do not debilitate our minds, bodies and lives.

For me, I need reminding.  I need it hammered home.  I am only one slip away from regret and being back in that space I hated.  I am delighted to be here.  Just so delighted.  It is precious beyond words in so many small ways.

Hope you have a lovely Sunday.

264. Long time no see – SORRY

Unknown.jpeg

I am still here!  I have been away and busy busy busy with kids and so on.  I have not been very loyal to my blog!  I do think that not very many people read it!  If you do, please give me a little hi!  Thanks.

Well in the time between stories, I have been in the States and in South Africa.  I have done several long haul flights in decent class of the aeroplane (due to husband being airline employee not due to riches) so have survived being on holiday in sunny drinky places and refusing champagne and other free expensive wines.

That was one of my great big fears.  Saying no to free booze.  Decent free booze!  It is so funny how the terrifying things have become normal.  How going on holiday now is not a fearful alcohol free event, but a happily alcohol free break!  It is so so so good.

I will not lie, I have had some (few) times when I HAVE JUST BEEN DESPERATE TO RELIEVE MY DISTRESS OR IRRITATION.  Situations (silly irrelevant to anyone else) have been in my radar which are causing me feelings of discomfort.  I have nothing that I can do to ”scratch the itch” except 1) accept the feelings of discomfort and stop trying to bury them 2) pause and wonder how I can best care for myself and sometimes cry 3) use treats and tea to self-soothe 4) listen to podcasts and 5) do some stomping walks.  And the feelings pass and the balance revisits.

Being sober is so much less complicated.  Had I been facing some of my inside thoughts with a hangover OH MY GOD ALIVE it would be 400 times worse.  Hangovers and the attendant shame, sorrow, depressing feelings, regret etc. are something that I NEVER want back in my life. Ever.  My life is so much simpler now that I can trust myself and feel proud of myself and look myself in the eye.

If you are out there reading this and you are wondering if you can ever go ALCOHOL FREE then read a little from the beginning of my blog.  I heard the other day that IF the thought of a future without alcohol terrifies you then you REALLY REALLY need to have one!  And it is true.  It made me so afraid.  Especially afraid that I would just keep failing.  I have failed for years!!!  But it is possible.  If it were not better I would be back drinking in a heartbeat.  

But it is SO MUCH BETTER and easier (most of the time) than you imagine.

Love to you all x

 

248. On my holidays

Unknown-1.jpeg

We are on holiday – just the four of us – and we are not visiting family (sadly).   It is unusual for us to go away when we DON’T visit family and are just us four.  There have been a few of the usual kid tensions (no adult ones!!) but nothing major.  Indeed it has been a very special and peaceful time.

It’s interesting being in slightly suburban Florida, bordering on the wild Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades.  America is an enigma and I cannot decide where I stand on the whole thing.  We are smack in the middle of luxury and excess, bordering on wild and beautiful ocean, and crazy bars with names like Naughty Dicks and Nervous Nellies and so on!  Where you can buy enormous gigantic slices of Key Lime Pie and saccharine sweet smoothies.  Everything here seems to have sugar added, even the bread and the ham.  And the pickles.  I would be the size of a house if I lived here.  However,  contrast is incredible.  On one hand there is the ocean wild and free…. you see dolphin and acres of empty blue skies…..and then just next door and down the road from where we are staying, are houses that look like a scene from Breaking Bad (just a house shot scene) and a ”Keep America Great” Trump poster swinging  from the front porch.  As well as huge luxury pads with $600 000 boats parked outside.  Everything all mixed up.

It makes me think of the love-hate relationship I had (have?) with alcohol!  My gorgeous brother-in-law once remarked that I had this type of feeling towards the booze.  And he was spot on.  Before drinking I had this excited, eager mild fixation…. the next day (after a big night perhaps) I would have this desperate desire to enter a monastery and never see another wine, gin or beer again in my life.  But that feeling would wear off and a few days later I would talk myself into getting back in the saddle!

That cycle is broken.  As hard as it was to imagine a year ago, I am now three quarters of a year down the line with no booze.  I was carrying my sons’ beer yesterday and thought…. I could easily just have a few sips …. but really?

The noticeable thing for me (and my hub) is how little we are collectively drinking on this holiday.  (Me none obvs)…..In the old days we would definitely have had a couple of bottles of wine a night.  A sneaky gin and tonic plus beers at sundown….  We would have been going to bed late and waking up slightly whoozie and off key.  This holiday, he has a few beers – as does my son – then hub has a glass of wine (just one) and that is it.  My daughter has decided not to drink for a while as she has been at university partying up a small storm (thankfully she is a normy) and is not feeling like drinking, so she has not touched a drop for around 20 days.

So this holiday has had no boozy taint.  We have painted and cooked, boated and eaten.  Marvelled at the American way of life, laughed, got irritated, swam, jogged, done sit ups, played cards and played more cards, and generally had some calm time together.  Very little screen time too.  My gorgeous son decided to leave his phone back home.  This was the cause of the initial irritation on his part!  Separation anxiety!  He now cannot remember ever owning a phone and has been fishing mornings and evenings.

The holiday has been different.  We have been connected and real.  When we laugh it is real laugh, not booze soaked.  No one is driving the drinking… “Come oooon, one for the road! ” was the rallying cry of my early twenties.  I did not know a single adult who did not drink.  We were drinking tonnes with my parents when I was my kids age.  Roughly.  Our holidays centred around booze.  Almost.  It would be unthinkable not to drink on holiday.  I hope against hope that my children see that it is possible and even enjoyable.

The difference is so big, and yet such a little tweak.

 

 

 

 

238. In the mix

Unknown.jpeg

It is tempting to want to put a shiny gloss on everything in our lives.  In this blog I know certain people I know will be reading it and I am ever so slightly conscious of their opinion.  If it were totally anonymous I think it would be a little different, as I would feel totally uninhibited.

I want to be realistic too in this journey.  I hope that I have not intimated that it is only pink fluffy clouds.  However, even though I feel moments of irritation, moments of why do people not get it?  Why do they have to just pour and pour and pour the booze down?? Why do I feel like an outsider in my own friendship group occasionally, not to mention my own family!? All these questions are real and they are there and they are MY ISSUE to deal with.

No one else has anything to do with my decision.  So whether it is a pat on the back or a slap in the face, it has to be received with a shrug of the shoulders.   It is nice to get a pat on the back and I get many of those, but in reality they have nothing to do with why I am doing this.   The slap in the face – well they are only on my imagination.. and no one really minds anymore that I am not joining the boozy slurry evenings… so the slaps in the face are not even real, they are my imagined feelings of being seen to be the odd one out.  And they too will have nothing to do with why I am doing this.

Why am I?  Why does anybody do something counter cultural and stick to it?  It is because it really suits me and I just absolutely love it.  If I know I am going to be in a situation where I feel on the back foot and the odd one out, I am just not going to go!  I do not have to subject myself to boozers every single occasion I encounter.  I don’t mind occasionally because not everyone I know is a massive boozer!!  That is certain!  But I am going to be more selective.  The few times I have really struggled with feeling misunderstood or the odd one out, and feeling massively uncomfortable are around good friends and in certain mental head situations… I am feeling shite to start off with, and the boozy cheer around me just contrasts too much in my head.

Apart from those times, I genuinely have loved this ”experiment”.  I am not going to stop now.  It is a massive yet tiny thing.  Just not sipping a certain liquid makes THIS much difference???  Odd.  Especially as I don’t remember myself as a total lush.  Just enough of a lush to feel shit about myself.

So now I don’t!  I feel like I am being true to myself at last.  And still not taking myself too seriously 😉  I do not say that life is perfect.  But it is very hopeful every single day.

Is there anyone out there who reads this?  Apart from the friends I KNOW who read it!  I am just curious as to who you are and how you are doing.  You can send me an anonymous email to barbsfalkiner@gmail.com

Have a lovely day ;-))))))

Byeeeee

 

 

Day 235. Always learning.

Unknown.jpeg

Love lessons.

Life is good.  But we cannot always feel totally tickety-boo all the time.  I had a moment the other night where everything was annoying.  I did not (ever) want to drink, but I did feel that real ”outside” feeling.  Where I ASSUME AND FEEL that friends are looking at me feeling sorry for me that I am not drinking, where I can see the shallow sameness of boozing and it made me feel UUUUURRRRGH.  And put me in such a grump.  I noticed all that was irritating about my nearest and dearest, but it was all down to me and my perceptions and issues and I just needed a kick up the backside.

One of my other jobs is doing weddings, and I was writing a wedding address this morning still feeling in my deep self-pitying grump over perceived slights…. The beauty of having to give talks at weddings is that you need to honestly evaluate the state of your own union and you cannot give advice that you are not taking yourself.  (Well, not if you are going to do a job with integrity you can’t….). So here I was thinking about what I was writing (don’t worry I am not going to get all religious on you)… and thinking about the passage the couple had chosen…. which (part of it) reads:

Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

And my point of talking on this is to illustrate that this particular verb ”to love” used here in the greek is AGAPE love and this love is love that we choose when we feel least like exhibiting it… So I took note of the ”love is not easily irritated  or quick to take offense” and ate a piece of humble pie and apologised for my easily offended critical attitude which has nothing to do with my nearest and dearest’s treatment of me, but much more with my own insecurities.  I DID NOT WANT to do it.  But I bit the bullet and did.  And the whole attitude and atmosphere in my heart was transformed from stompy and cross to soft-hearted calm.

My point is:  if we are hungover, ashamed from any over -drinking, plain out of energy because we slept badly because we over indulged…. we cannot – or rather I cannot -often summon up the energy and botheration needed to sort through my own bad attitudes and face them head on and deal with them.  Being completely sober and never feeling hungover or slightly off colour or a little shameful  (or any of the other ways I can feel when I have been have a few drinks) makes it a whole lot more simple to clarify what is REALLY going on in one’s heart and head.

I could say okay…. no one is looking at you and feeling sorry for you.  You are perhaps feeling somewhere sorry for yourself.  Get a grip and stop projecting your irritations onto others and take responsibility for them.  These are things I may have done as a drinking person, but they would certainly have dragged on and taken hold and done more damage than necessary.

So here’s to the couple who are getting married this afternoon.  May they look at the definition of real love that I offer.  May we all:  the brave non-boozers, the still boozers, the friends and the lurkers all look at that splendid paragraph and remember it.

Have a great weekend.

Byeeeee