Forever?

Month six was a good one. I was really beginning to relax into sobriety, cravings had pretty much died off completely and socialising was becoming easier. I felt strong. There were a bunch of times I was grateful to be sober (especially when I had to drive!) and the prospect of this new sober life stretching out ahead of me didn’t fill me with dread as it did in the beginning.

Roll on month seven and I feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. My resolve over the past few days has weakened and I keep picturing myself going back to drinking at some stage down the track. I know I only have to focus on the here and now, and it’s not so important to be okay with not drinking forever, but I still get a bit stressed over thoughts of the future.

I want to move cities (if not countries) at some stage in the next couple of years and the thought of settling in to a new place without the ease of getting to know new friends over drinks is really daunting. I’m now a pro at staying sober during the day to day grind of work and home life. Routines make things easy, but turning my life upside down is really going to throw a spanner in the works.

I guess that’s the challenge though right? The possible always seems impossible until it’s done. I’ve always relied on alcohol to make boring evenings fun, to make socialising less stressful, to ‘give me dutch courage’, and so on. It’s not until you take away the alcohol and learn to live without it that you realise you don’t need it. Boring evenings aren’t less fun without wine anymore, I’ve had enough practice to know I can go without and not miss it. It’s a matter of doing it and proving to yourself that it’s okay. I just haven’t had the chance to prove to myself that I don’t need alcohol in my future, because I haven’t got there yet…  Am I making sense? Probably not.

In other news, I am about to commence operation ‘I quit sugar’. I’ve bought the book and I’m doing the eight week detox with a couple of friends. Week one involves cutting out obvious sugars, so no sugar in my morning coffee or bowls of icecream in the evenings. I’m on the soda and limes instead of ginger beer. My diet is dull and cardboardy now that I’m not washing everything down with fructose, but it’s only for eight weeks. Doing a sugar detox feels like such a luxury when I compare it to being sober because I know there is an end to this if I want it. If, after eight weeks, I want to go back to a sugar laden diet, I can. Which is funny because that’s how I started out with sobriety – it was just an experiment really. But I liked parts of it, and I was curious to see what would happen if I kept going, so I did.

When did I start worrying about whether it was forever or not? It’s a hell of a lot less stressful when I think of sobriety as ‘just for the foreseeable future’. Simply as a means to getting healthy again. Not bothering with alcohol for a while because it wreaks havoc with my anxiety. Sometimes thinking in the short term just has to be enough. I don’t know how Mrs D and others can be so confident in proclaiming that they’ll never have another drink again in their lives – it must take a lot of sober practice to have that confidence and I hope I get to that point too! #sobergoals

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The List: Taking Stock

Now that I’ve washed up on the other side of a taxing festive season and the rush and busyness of Christmas has died away, I’ve been plonked into 2016 with no grand plans, no immediate obstacles, just a vast expanse of sober time stretching out ahead of me and a bit of a sense of what now? I read some advice recently that said when you’re feeling at a bit of a loose end and a bit directionless, it’s a good time to write down what you’ve achieved so far and what your future goals are.

I’ve never been one to set resolutions at New Years – I think I’ve always been too much of a realist and knew I’d never stick to them, so didn’t bother. But the start of a fresh year seems to time perfectly with where I’m at and my need to take stock of what I’ve achieved so far and have a think about what I need to do next. (Plus, I have an obsession with list writing, so any excuse!)

Here’s what I consider my achievements so far:

  • I stopped drinking! (Obviously had to be number one.) I actually managed to stop the daily cycle – drinking to feel good/to help me sleep/to take away anxiety, waking up feeling guilty and ashamed, promising myself I wouldn’t drink again that night, doing a half-arsed job of getting myself ready for work, feeling sick, eating crap, feeling miserable. Then, the afternoon spent feeling better, the internal argument cranking to life again ‘wine with dinner?’ – I still can’t believe that I pulled myself out of that cycle and gave myself enough distance to get any kind of grip or perspective on the situation.
  • I won battles. The first few weeks were spent still so tightly wound up in the grip of alcohol. This was a very wobbly time. There were points where I even decided I was going to drink again. But there was still a tiny little voice inside me, saying “win this battle, win this battle, win this battle.” The voice was so little, I can hardly believe I listened, but I’m grateful I did.
  • I worked through cravings. Meh, cravings are easy to deal with in comparison to doubt. But they are still a pain in the backside.
  • I resisted peer pressure. Surprisingly minimal amounts, but I’ve still dealt with a wee bit of it.
  • I started telling people that I’ve stopped drinking. I count this as an achievement because it’s been awkward as hell (so I want some credit for it haha), but I haven’t really managed to do a good job of it. I find myself wanting to compensate for their awkwardness when I tell them. I haven’t got my lines down-pat (I wish I’d worked more on exactly what I planned to say like all the advice told me to!)

    NYE Cheese & Mocktails
    NY Eve : avoided human interaction in favour of cheese & mocktails
  • I got through testing times. I stayed sober through big work parties, boozy dinners, Christmas and New Years. All achieved through a combination of planning, support (thanks to everyone that has given me advice and propped me up), dogged determination, avoidance, and a fuck load of sugar and cheese.
  • I maintained optimism. I’m not really seeing any of the expected positive side effects (weight loss, glowing skin, better sleep, more free time), but I don’t really care because there have been unexpected positive side effects instead. Mainly, the restoration of some self respect. But I’m also less anxious, my nails are better (random), I don’t have to worry about drunk driving and I can buy sober treats.

I did not expect that list to be so long, so I might draw a line under this post and have a good think about where to from here for 2016. After writing this list of achievements, I think the first point on my next one will be ‘don’t get too cocky!’ 🙂