1 month down…

So, I’ve not posted for a while – mainly because I’m bloody exhausted! As you can gather from the title, I am now officially 1 month into my sobriety (well, I will be tomorrow…). It has been quite a journey so far, but a good one I think!
I got back from the UK ready to throw myself back into the AA programme, and that I did…however, on 7th April I had a relapse, and decided it would be a great idea to drink 1.5 litres of wine…and then walk straight past my AA meeting (in the pouring rain) and into the nearest bar…where I proceeded to read Harry Potter (?!) and drink a few beers. When I had finally come to my senses and admitted defeat, I called my sponsor, who very kindly came and took me home.
Following that, I have worked really hard. I go to at least 4 AA meetings a week, although this week it will have been 6, and I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. I have started some medication to help with cravings, and went on a women’s 12 Step Retreat last weekend. All this has added up to 1 month of continued sobriety.
I won’t pretend it has been easy – certainly not! But I think the pride and surprise that I feel to have achieved 1 month without alcohol speaks volumes – I am truly an alcoholic!
During this time, my husband and I have officially separated, although circumstances dictate that we still have to live together. Surprisingly, this is not actually too bad – in fact, we are getting on much better as “friends” than we did as husband and wife.
My life is changing immeasurably – I feel like a better person – the person, in fact, that I believe I was born to be and the one I was before life and my inability to cope took hold. I am a better Mummy to my son, and a better friend to the ones I love.
For those who don’t know much about AA, it is heavily focussed on spirituality (NOT religion), and turning yourself into a less self-centred person; understanding your character defects and working to change them, and becoming more compassionate to those around you. It truly is an amazing programme, and one which I think could be useful for everyone, not just alcoholics!
I can’t tell you how many amazing people I have met, and now have the good fortune to call my friends. The strength and courage found in those rooms of AA is awe inspiring, and totally addictive! Going to meetings, for me, is a privilege, not a chore!
Of course, not all is rosy in my world – I am facing my life as a single Mum, I am currently living in a foreign country with no visa (here on my husbands!) and no work permit. I will be returning to England in December, which I am dreading – I will be leaving the comfort and safety of my AA life here, and facing lots of changes when I return. I don’t have a job to go back to, and don’t know where I will live. I am terrified of my parents and what they will say. BUT, I am living life on life’s terms – I cannot change what has happened in the past, and can only work hard on my sobriety to ensure a better future. Without sobriety, I have a very rocky future indeed.
The retreat I went to at the weekend was fabulous – we had a real laugh and a good cry and there was some really interesting and inspirational sharing. It makes me feel so “normal” to be around all these women who have been in a similar boat to me, and have not only lived to tell the tale, but are having a fantastic time doing it!
There are times when of course I miss alcohol – I mourn for the loss of this friend who has been with me for such a long time. I feel sad that we won’t share these fun times together again in the future. But the fact of the matter is, that 1st drink will end up killing me. It may seem dramatic, but it is true! Once I have one, I just cannot stop. I am powerless over it. So, the only drink I need to avoid is that 1st one! I do wish I could drink like a “normy”, but I can’t! I am baffled by people who have use for a cork…

As a very wise woman on the retreat said, “If I could drink like a normal person, I’d do it all the time”…

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UK visit

Right.  So I have returned to Canada from my trip back to the UK.  It was horrendous!  But wonderful! 

So, to qualify – I had a wonderful time, but from a non-drinking point of view, it was horrendous!  I drank.  A lot. 

As you know, I drank on the plane.  That was fine (not really, but still…), and then I discussed with the ‘rents re. non-alcohol.  BUT.  I drank – in secret.  I don’t know why, but I love it!  I love drinking in secret!  The thrill of having some beautiful liquid gold when no-one else knows you’re doing it is amazing!  So, it materialises that I find stealing from my parents is acceptable….

I have had a lot of drinks on my return to the UK – but what is really telling is that my trip to my best friends’ house was not the worst.  So, I saw her for a lovely weekend away from the kids…and told her I would be drinking.   She didn’t stop me, but also didn’t judge.  That weekend I drank and had fun the same as everyone – but without the fear of being judged. 

I then went to see her, a week later, at home with our little people (both 2 and a real handful!).  I didn’t want to drink inappropriately.  We went our for the evening and we drank and had fun – I remember her saying that she was worried that the AA programme would make me not want to be friends with her as she ‘enabled’ me to drink.

Not so.  The reason I drink is because I’m miserable.  Sadly, I entered into a miserable marriage knowingly.  I don’t think anyone has read it, but in Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte says “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance”.  I’m ashamed to say I subscribed to that notion.  I married a lovely, steady man.  I didn’t love him though.  He was safe, dependable and kind, but not what I wanted.  And now I’m paying the price. 

Entirely a matter of chance.  Oh it’s so sad!!!  It is such a fabulous thought!!!  But in this world it doesn’t work – I’ve no doubt had I lived in Charlotte’s world, it would have worked….but I live in the 21st century, where apparently people do things to make them happy?!

So, it backfired.  It backfired from the start, if I’m honest.  I won’t go into it, but there were dalliances…and it should have highlighted the issues, but it didn’t.  So, we went on to have a child, and I don’t regret that for one second.  My boy is my raison d’etre….for sure.  I realise that within the AA programme, they say you should do it for ‘you’….but for me, the reason for doing it is my boy.  If he wasn’t here then neither would I be – it’s as simple as that.

Is it me?

The weird thing I’m thinking lately is ‘ls it me?’. You know when you have someone who makes you question everything you do? Or why you’re doing it? No….?
It’s only just occurred to me that this isn’t normal!
I have recently spent time with a couple who loved each other. For who they are. And they liked each others’ company! Its a fucking revelation, believe me! And I would like that! I don’t care who or why, but I would like it!
I just need to work out how…

On home turf

Right. I am back in the UK visiting friends and family, and so far it has been alright. I say alright, because I have had a drink….but, me being the eternal optimist that I am (weird for a lush with depression, I know), feels it hasn’t been the disaster it could have been!
So, first hurdle – the flight…well to be accurate the lounge beforehand. Yep, I drank. To be honest, I think that was always going to happen. Free alcohol so early on is just one temptation too far I’m afraid. BUT, I felt I did pretty well at moderating myself… throughout the whole 3 hours in the lounge and 7 hour flight I only drank 3 gin and tonics, 2 glasses of wine, 2 glasses of champagne and a tia maria and coke. Clearly I realise this seems like a lot to the wider world, but seriously, I think I did well. Clearly I could have done better though…
Anyway, I have survived the past week and a half at my parents house unscathed. The only hiccup being the wedding last weekend… more of that shortly. My parents have predictably interrogated me regarding the non drinking, but my mum has been great, buying me lovely soft drinks to soften the blow! And not offering me alcohol at all. I am really grateful to her.
My dad, however, is hilarious! I told him the truth about my consumption and he conceded it was a lot…however, he then went on to offer me a beer, because apparently “no one ever became an alcoholic by drinking beer – you physically can’t drink the volume”. Bless him. He really doesn’t mean to be glib or dismissive, he just really can’t comprehend it. My parents are both very much from a generation of “stiff upper lip” mentality, where discussing feelings is pretty unheard of!
Anyway, I’m coping.

Positives rather than negatives

Last night I went to a meeting – one that I hadn’t been to before. My sponsor has advised me to go to at least 3 meetings a week – so I am doing what I’m told! Anyway, I went to this meeting. All I can say is THANK GOD I didn’t go to this meeting first. It was fine, but hardly inspiring.
There were 10 people there – not a problem at all – in fact, even better as usually this gives rise to more sharing and unity. However, there was not really any of the ‘love’ in the room that I have felt at the other meetings I have been to. The majority of attendees were your typical ‘what society sees as an alcoholic’ – i.e. men in their 50s (who look in their 70s), and who seriously look as though they’re still on the sauce. That’s not a problem in itself – I like to think I am open and not prejudiced – but it is difficult to relate to, which is SO important in recovery.
Anyway, the way a meeting is structured is that we all take it in turns to read paragraphs from the steps (last night Step 12) and then share our personal experience with that step. OH MY GOD. To say it was tedious would be an underestimation. These guys can TALK! And not about anything remotely useful or interesting.
Anyway, in the spirit (no pun intended) of AA, I took some positives from this experience. Certainly, some people had some interesting things to share. There was a lady who talked about how she had been removed from the steps – and become a ‘dry drunk’ – over the past few months, which had caused her to spiral down into a depression. She had eventually got back in touch with her sponsor and re-joined the path, and was feeling much better. This helped me to realise that this journey is FOR LIFE. I won’t be going to a few meetings, doing my homework on The Steps, taking an exam and gaining a certificate of ‘Non-Alcoholicness’. This is FOR LIFE.
So, although it felt like it was not a great use of my time, it really was. It made me appreciate how amazing my Home Group is, and how lucky I am to have gone there in the first place. And made me appreciate the enormity of the task ahead of me. That isn’t scary. In fact, it’s quite exciting. I’m in a little club! And I like it!

Looking forward

Oh I’m bucking the trend and adding another post today…
Basically I’m worried. I’m worried about going back to the UK. I am going back on Sunday, and there are SO MANY hurdles ahead.
Firstly, I have the flight. I am flying business. Which means I go to the lounge….which means free alcohol. THEN, I get on the plane, with a welcome glass of champagne. And then there is the flight. An 8 hour trap in a tin can with unlimited FREE BOOZE!!! What could be better?! Or what could be worse for a recovering alcoholic?!
And then when I get over that, there is my parents’ house. My parents who I love and adore and respect. But they drink. A LOT. My Mum, when I told her about this issue – ‘oh, well it’s not a problem, I only drink a bottle of wine a week – half on a Friday and half on a Saturday.’. And then her opinion of my Dad – ‘he doesn’t drink in the week – only a beer on a Wednesday at walking and a Scotch on a Thursday with Grandad’….so that just leaves Monday and Tuesday, Mum!!!
Sigh. I feel a hard few weeks coming on…

Divine intervention?

This morning I think I had my first HP moment!  I realise, again, this sounds weird and airy fairy, but I’m clinging onto it and it’s keeping me sober! 

I decided today I was going to have a drink.  Don’t know why – I just did.  Anyway, I then couldn’t find my keys.  I searched high and low…panicking as I had a coffee date with a friend.  Then, I realised!  Maybe this is my Higher Power!  Hiding my keys from me so I can’t go out and buy a drink!  So, I spoke to the Big Man upstairs, and said ‘OK, you got me.  I won’t have a drink.  So show me my keys’…and low and behold – there they were, in my son’s toybox. 

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, or perhaps it’s divine intervention, but whatever it is, it was enough to stop me from buying that bottle today, and for that I am grateful. 

Turning my will over…

Went to a meeting last night – it was all about Step 3, which involves turning your will over to God, or your Higher Power. I admit I find that a really difficult concept to grasp, but it was interesting to hear all the other women talking on this point. From what I can gather, it essentially means you should just ‘let it be’. There are things in life you can’t change, and you should accept that and move on…something that I think many of us struggle with.

On the walk home I was reflecting on that point. Recently, I made a comment (fairly innocuous) on Facebook (oh, how it is the bane of my life!) which offended someone who I call a friend. She was obviously cross, so I removed it and apologised to her profusely. However, she has clearly not accepted my apology. BUT – I made a decision, after stewing on it ALL NIGHT, to let it go. I had done all I could – if she didn’t want to accept my apology, then what more could I do? SO, I guess this is what Step 3 is all about! Let it be!

A wise(ish!) friend has recently said to me about my sobriety journey that I have many friends that will support me on this, but some will ‘fall by the wayside, but they will be the ones that needed to go anyway’. Quite. I need people around me right now that support me and make me feel good.

Let it be.

A new week!

So begins a new week!

I had a fabulous day yesterday! Met up with Charlie, my sponsor, and we went through our expectations of our relationship, and of the process. We read through some of the BB – it’s amazing how AA started and how many people have been ‘saved’ through this wonderful fellowship.

She leant me her prayer book in order to help me get accustomed to the idea of prayer and ideas of where to start. I realise some people will find this hard to get on board with, but I totally am willing to give in to my Higher Power in order to help me find the right path for me.

We had an awkward moment in Tim Hortons (coffee shop) whilst in our meeting. A guy at the next table spotted our Big Books and started speaking to us about being ‘clean’ and other such things… This is totally a ‘violation’ of one of the AA promises – the clue is in the title – ‘Alcoholics ANONYMOUS’. We are to respect each others’ anonymity. It was very awkward and Charlie handled the situation well. I can’t say I was that concerned that others in the coffee shop were aware I was an alkie – I am an alkie who has chosen to do something about it! No shame in that!

Anyway, we had a great meeting and I am really looking forward to working with Charlie on my journey – she has so much to offer and I am so grateful for the time and effort she is putting into my sobriety.

We then went to a Women’s Meeting, which was so inspiring I can’t even describe it. I was delighted to receive my first Medallion! In AA we get a Medallion after 24 hours of being sober, and then work towards our next one at 1 month. It was a very moving experience to go up to the front and be applauded for my decision to begin this journey. After the meeting, women were coming to me and shaking my hand, congratulating me and generally giving me words of inspiration and wisdom. Fantastic!

I left the meeting on an absolute high! I am so grateful to AA and for all the work they do. On the way home, I had a ‘moment’. I was sitting on the subway and flicking through the prayer book, when it fell open on a passage called ‘Footprints’. This has particular meaning to me as it was a passage that my Grandma had up in her kitchen when I was growing up. It always reminds me of her, and she was the light of my life. She passed away in 2007, 2 weeks before my wedding, and I miss her more than I can say. Anyway, the book fell open at this passage, so I read it, and before I knew it I was welling up! I got a lovely warm feeling and tingles through my body…I don’t know what you may call it, but the spiritual side of me thinks she was there with me, giving me strength and courage. SHE is my Higher Power.

Anyway, that is all for today really. I realise this post is a bit loopy and airy fairy, ‘plinky plunky’, you might say. I know my Sister From Another Mister will love it and think I’m going to start buying crystals and such… But, I feel so at peace and excited about my new life and the journey ahead of me.

BRING IT ON!!!!

I drank today. I’m not sure why – I certainly didn’t want to, but I did. And now I’m filled with the remorse and guilt that comes afterwards. Why do I do this to my son? Why do I do this to myself?
It’s a strange thing, really. Drinking. Nothing good ever really came from it! It is poison. I’ve lost count of the times I was sick or feeling ill because of the amount I consumed. In fact. I’m pretty sure that since I started drinking daily, maybe aged 22, I have not felt fully ‘well’.
I need to keep focussed on my goal. Sobriety. I have embarked on the AA program – I have been to 2 meetings and I can’t tell you how wonderful they made me feel. The first time I went to the group I have chosen as my ‘home group’, I felt that the women there were delving into my head and reciting my thoughts! I have never in my life felt so at peace. I was amongst people who truly understood. Amazing.
I have now got a sponsor – let’s call her Charlie. She is awesome, and I SO want to be where she is at! She is so supportive and kind – she sends me her ‘5 reasons to be grateful’ in the morning, and in turn I have to send her mine. It is incredible how this simple task can really make a difference to your day. Some days I have lay in bed and really struggled with it….the days when I am post-alcohol. But the days when I wake up hangover free I can really see so many reasons to be grateful. It is very telling what alcohol does to your mind – you can’t see the good things in life because of it.
Charlie also expects me to check in with her daily, and meet with her at least once a week to go through the Big Book and steps. She gives me homework and expects me to read the BB every day and make notes! This may seem like a real ball ache, but actually – I made time to drink! Why shouldn’t I replace it with this?! It has given me a focus and a real feeling of purpose. Something I think I have been lacking for a while.
I need to keep going to meetings. That is my Big Thing for the next few weeks. I need the peace that the fellowship provides.