Sunday, 19 February 2017

274-1/365 Remembering Relapses

I have gone off the boil when it comes to blogging and reading blogs, I still plan things I should blog about but then just don't sit down to do it. It's all ok though as my life is moving along merrily with barely a thought of booze or even sobriety (well booze sobriety anyway). I just am me who doesn't drink or even think about it much. Who knew this was possible?  Well loads of people, I just never really believed them.

One thing I can say is that I am feeling a great sense of empathy for those out there struggling with lapse and relapse. I am not struggling with alcohol but I have been on and off the sugar wagon this last few weeks and it's just the same feelings, addictive behaviour, regret, remorse, self hatred etc etc. One day I was sneaky eating some sugar laden product in the living room in the dark, eating it quickly in case my daughter came in and saw me. I suddenly came back into my body (not sure where I had been in the past 5 minute lead up) and realised oh my goodness -sugar is the new booze! Well not the new booze but a more intense version of the food issues I've had all my life. Suddenly this issue has be promoted from bothersome overeating, especially when under the influence of alcohol, to full blown cross addiction.

I have recently done a 30 day reset on all potential allergenic foods along with sugar. At the end of 30 days, which was amazing FYI, clear headed no sinus issues, not a single headache, feel lighter, feel better, feel satiated after eating, no bloating, (I could go on and on) you are supposed to reintroduce foods one at a time for 3 days and see if you have a reaction. Well on day 35 I think it was I decided to give it a go. I was holding out to see how long I could go without any of the forbidden foods but it was mixed with a slight fear about eating them and what could happen. How prophetic.  In reality I think I had a craving so thought ok I'll test it out. Well I had some chippy chips (from the fish and chip shop) big fat juicy British chips not skinny crispy fries. I shared a small portion with a colleague who unbeknownst to me like cheesy chips and ordered our (shared) chips with cheese. I didn't make too big a deal of it and thought ok so I guess I'm trying dairy today too. Disaster!!

There are many of you who may not believe in food addictions in the way that normal drinkers think we are just overly self indulgent lushes who need to tighten the reigns on wine. Let me assure you that for some people food is like crack and I have realised recently dairy and sugar are bigger issues for me or have become bigger issues for me than I ever realised. That cheese gave me licence to eat more cheese, buy cream for my coffee and butter for my........ 'Oh I'm not supposed to be eating gluten or even gluten free products' (that was the voice of reason trying to speak up) BREAD a whole loaf of lovely expensive white crusty bread cut thick. And the gloves were off.

This last few weeks has been a backward slide into addictionville with the calorie count some days being stratospheric. The mood has dropped and that ensuing sense of failure, self hatred, self pity, shame and promises to get back on track. Self sabotage to the nth degree. Not to mention bloating, stomach pain and oh my..... the heartburn, oh wow I had forgotten how bad it could be, plus the shakes from all the sugar. It really is like wine or crack or heroin. Ironically I am also doing today as the "last day" like I used to with booze. Today I'll have all my favourites to one last time get them out of my system and "say goodbye" forever. Anyone relate???    FFS it all seems so infantile and deluded, like a big lie I am telling myself that I know is a lie but I still feel I need to say it. I think it's because I need to say goodbye to some things forever like gluten and dairy which I have known for years have caused me issues but because the reward was in my perverted brain better than the punishment (digestive issues and headaches) I kept experimenting,  eating them in smaller portions or only every few day or often in blow out binges. Having gone 35 days or more without them and then diving head first into them in overdose form, the kick back this time has been way more pronounced, the pain worse and the punishment all the more noticeable and frankly not worth it. I am still stuck with the fear I won't be able to get it bank under control though and food is everywhere these day.

This is what happens when you quit drinking for a decent amount of time and then relapse. You now know how much better life can be without alcohol, how good you can feel, how much more alive you can feel and what a sense of achievement and accomplishment you have. When you relapse all you want to do is get back to that happy state, why did you fuck it up, throw it all away, go back to your stupid addictive behaviour etc. It's the worst kind of cognitive dissonance there is and you know it yet it can sometimes takes us weeks or months or worse YEARS to get back on track. In my case it was  about 14 months before I was able to stop drinking after completing my first 100 days, 137 days in fact but one "fuck it" moment caused me over a year worth of misery and truthfully decent into truly escalating dangerous drinking. This recent blip with food is bad for me but on the grand scale of things not comparable to my drinking days. I will potentially have to put my grown up shoes on and take control again as the petulant, deprived lonely child seems to have taken over and run the show for the last few weeks. I see that now and I need to change it.

My food issues are mine just as all of our issues are our own but alcohol bleeds heavily into the lives of others, those around us, our kids, our partners and potentially innocent bystanders if we are out on the roads. If you are still drinking take solace in the fact that you can beat it but it takes hard work and determination to get through the first 30 days, after that you just need to keep going to 100 days and realising you are at the start of a whole new journey in life. However, if at any time you think it's worth testing out your addiction centre in your brain to see if you are cured, chances are you are not the exception to the rule and you may find yourself face first in a bucket of disappointment or cheesy chips in my case.

DON'T TEST YOUR SOBRIETY EVER! It truly is just not worth it.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Good News

Thank you everyone that took time out to comment and keep Celeste in their thoughts. She has been found and reunited with her mum.

She is physically relatively well but extremely fragile and emotional. I am sure there will be a few hard days ahead.

I genuinely do appreciate the kindness people show here and that we are so supportive of eachother regardless of the subject in this little corner of the web.

Ginger

Sunday, 5 February 2017

260-1/365 Say a little prayer

07/02/2017 Update: Celeste has been found

Does anyone out there still pray? Do you offer up your thoughts to your higher power? Do you implore 'something' out there to help you when you are in crisis whether you call it God/god or not?

As a 'recovering' Catholic I still use the word God when I feel beyond desperation and I implore God to please help me. I also thank God or the universe or some higher version of myself when things go right or when I feel grateful for something in my life. Being raised Catholic, not just Catholic but Irish Catholic and not just Irish Catholic but small village, backwater, staunch, hell fire and brimstone  Irish Catholic, RUINED religion and God for me and has left me angry, confused, conflicted and bewildered sometimes in life. However, like so many others I have cobbled together something that works for me using elements of religion, spirituality, mindfulness and some kind of natural wonder to help me when life doesn't make sense and when I feel alone and in need of some ethereal assistance. In short at times I need to plead PLEASE HELP ME GOD I CANNOT GO ON LIKE THIS.

I often wonder how people with no belief system cope. When things go wrong and life seems to be hell bent on destroying you how do they invoke assistance or do they not ask for help outside of themselves. I genuinely have no idea as to me having been indoctrinated from birth I cannot imagine any other way. AA advocates calling on a higher power to help you get sober and certainly I have asked my version of a higher power (whatever that combination is) to please help me stop drinking. I also use it at other times when I am in distress, feel out of control and when I have no strength left. Just last week when I was in the depths of despair for both myself and my daughter, feeling personally devastated at her words yet equally upset that she was in so much pain that she was lashing out I sent out an utterance about please help me.

This is a rather convoluted post as so many of mine are which differs from the writers out there who plan posts logically. I am trying to connect all the dots in my head which make such sense to me but don't translate so well in an orderly comprehensible form.

Today and in fact the last two days I have been thanking this god creation of mine as well as imploring it for assistance. Last week my daughter hurt my feelings so badly and I thought horrible things about her like I wanted her to move out, I hoped she'd have 4 girls, each giving her as hard a time as she gave me and I hoped in truth that one day she would feel the pain she had caused me so she could feel bad about it. Yep, I am a bitter mother and shocked and ashamed that I thought those things in the moment. In very quick succession I asked the god thing to please ignore those ridiculous pleas and don't let any of them happen, please, please I had spoken in haste and was speaking from hurt feelings. I do not want my daughter to suffer. Days later as my daughter is in my bed leaning on me crying still sad and confused I felt nothing but love for her and shame that I had ever even let such shocking and abhorrent thoughts come into my mind. This was especially poignant when she came another night, sad and upset that she was worried and deeply concerned over Melania Trump and that she feared Melania was being unkindly treated in her marriage and now social media was attacking her. At that point I glimpsed the compassion in her that we all hope to instill in our children. Thank you whoever, whatever for giving me this girl and for making her nicer than me. Thank you for keeping her safe and for keeping her loving me and coming to me when she needs my help but most of all for her faith in me after I have let her down so many times.

Mothers of teenage daughters are part of a club, only we can understand the myriad of emotions our girl teens take us through. We bitch about them, laugh about them, feel hurt by them and like so many of you helped me with, console each other about them and offer the assurances that they will be ok in the end. I have several friends and colleagues I can do this with and I myself have been the voice of reason for them when their daughter is tearing a hole in the universe.

My colleague's daughter is missing. She has been missing since Tuesday. No-one has heard from her including her friends and family. My colleague came to work two days thinking this was a teen angry at everyone or life or her mum. On the third day she couldn't continue working, the enormity of her daughter still being missing was too much. Then an appeal was launched.Then the police labelled it a HIGH RISK case, then.......they found out from one of her friends that she had just learned she was pregnant from the boyfriend she split up from. Then the story went national. I know what my colleague has told me over the years, the good, the bad, the arguments, the pain, the love, the understanding and the normal everyday bits and bobs. I find myself hoping and praying more than ever that this girl is ok and somehow unaware of the panic and media storm. I am terrified that this will not be the case. This girl is my daughter's age, her mother is my colleague, never has a story been so close to home for me and so consuming. For once this is not a family I feel sorry for but cannot relate to, this is in my bubble and could easily be my family story.

I so want to believe in the power of prayer, the power in numbers, the collective, collaborative focusing on a problem but realise this is one drop in the ocean of sadness in the world. For today I want Celeste to be safe and go home to her family, I want a small miracle for this family that would be the biggest gift they could ever have, tomorrow I can try to send out prayers for the rest of the world but for today I can only focus on one.

I didn't know where I was going with this post and I haven't ended up anywhere concrete. I guess I just need to share. If you do pray, please do. If you don't, please just think a positive thought for this family.


Sunday, 29 January 2017

253-1/365 Checking In

Day 253 and I am feeling quite blue to be honest. I have been postponing blogging for a few days in the hope my mood would improve, I know it will soon but I have decided to write today anyway to redirect my mind.

1. I am back at work after a significant time away, luckily everyone was very pleased to see me and it appears no one believes I was faking (huge worry of money) My workload on my return was ridiculous and I have been very clear with HR and all the managers that it was unacceptable that I returned to such a shambles especially given that my role is handling the details if the most vulnerable, dangerous or serious of our patients. I have also put my foot down in terms of the amount of work I do in relation to the amount of pay they give me. I think my absence has highlighted that for them.

2. I have turned somewhat evangelical [secondary definition] zealous in advocating or supporting a particular cause. about being sober and can genuinely say I hate the thought of alcohol now and how I wasted so much time wasting so much time and money. In a very similar vein to Jason Vale, I cannot get my head around why I drank and how much I never want to get like that again. I was at a friends house the other day and she was apologising that she wanted a drink and would I mind. I assured her that I had no interest whatsoever and it wouldn't bother me at all, which it didn't. I don't ever want to judge or criticise people who choose to drink and I am happy for people to drink around me. Whereas before I used to read about bloggers who's partners still drank and wonder how they managed to not guzzle all the booze when no one was looking. Now I understand totally and have lived with booze in my house since Thanksgiving when my friends from Chicago left behind their extra booze. It's just sitting in my porch along with about 10 bottles of Becks Blue. In fact I haven't had a Becks since Christmas or maybe New Year, nor have I thought about it. I hope that reads positively for anyone who wonders if the cravings will ever go away.
Truth be told I assumed I would be a dry drunk for the rest of my life, always mourning the day I had to stop drinking and wishing I could still have a drink. Nothing could be further from the truth and that is what most surprises me.

3. My high at returning to work, feeling motivated, rested and together has popped like a balloon and today and yesterday I have been flat, depressed and then angry that I am depressed. My vow to just sit with feelings and 'allow' them to move through me, today fills me with rage and yet more depression. I don't want to feel like this, I want to feel the way I did a week ago when everything was going well. I just want to not feel like this. Therein lies the crux of it all, I assumed that stopping drinking would solve ALL my problems and I would be transformed into everything I wasn't when I was drinking. Sadly I am still left with myself albeit a new and improved version, it's still the same me. I have no doubt that messing with my brain chemicals for years has broken the gauge that controls the balance and flow and I seem to be left with a feast or famine dose of optimism or pessimism. It's hard to cope with, acknowledge but most of all accept. Acceptance I know is pretty key here but I am still somewhat bitter and resentful I am not healed and reborn into the most dynamic version of myself I could imagine. Plus it's all SO fragile, I was doing brilliantly then a massive argument with my 18 year old daughter threw me back into my chasm of despair when she screamed all my biggest fears and worries back at me. Result being, I now assume all the things people say to placate me and ease my fears and worries are all lies and actually they do think the worst of me but are hiding it from me.
I can see how extreme that is but I am still in the digging my way out if rock bottom to put it in its true context. I will get there but just licking my wounds and trying to regain my strength again. Bloody fucking depression, I hate it and how I cave into it and let it rule my mind.

4. And now for some good news...... I am approx 29lbs down on the scale, approx because I remember weighing myself once when I was still drinking and being horrified so I didn't get on a scale for another six months so I think I had gone up before I came back down. This is part stopping drinking and the subsequent binges while drinking but also the next morning recovery hangover binge. Anne at ainsobriety often comments that weight loss doesn't happen for everyone and I am sure that is very true so don't panic if this isn't you. My friend who drank the same as I did never had the same bingeing tendencies I did when drinking so she lost about 3-4 lbs when she stopped only. For me I still have a great deal of weight to lose and I am very aware of how my mind is thinking alcoholically about food. Thankfully I am aware enough to be able to sit with these thoughts and realise that planting my face in a 3000 calorie binge of all my old favourites might be an attempt to change my state but I also have enough awareness and understanding to realise it is not going to work  for a second longer than when I am actually eating the food. I think this is the last ditch attempt of my addiction centre to try once again a known failed coping mechanism in the hope that this time it might work -it won't but oh boy is the desire strong to just zone out and enter oblivion.

5. It's all going to be ok. Hard as that is to write on a day like today when I feel like the pits, I know I have been here before and worse. I know that something is off in my equilibrium and it's sent me spiraling into the depths of despair but I also am aware that somehow I will come back out of it and any temporary panaceas like drinking, overeating, spending money are not going to change the core problem. I know none of these things can help and I understand their appeal is escapism and zoning out, avoiding the issue short term and accepting a bigger price and harsher consequences are the result. It's like living like a toddler when you cannot get yourself out if the cycle of destruction even though the longer you go on the worse things will get. Sometimes the only and last resort to to a tantrum is to step in and hug the child because they have gone too far to get themselves back, they need help. That is where I am right now, trying to be the adult to the little girl gabbing a tantrum and who is stuck and wanting to move forward but too overwhelmed by everything. So for today that is what I am doing, just trying to take care of myself and knowing that everything will be ok once again.

Sober is brilliant but it is not a silver bullet, there are things that we will all have to face and deal with that the absence of alcohol makes all too apparent. I can choose to look at this negatively or I can be an adult and see it as an opportunity for growth. today I choose the latter.

Ginger Groundhog

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

HELP -Support needed

Please, please if you have five minutes can you go and help a young man that has been brave enough to come back and post about a very hard few weeks that have had a major impact on his life.

Every now and the a post hits me and you want to be physically there for the person to let them know it's ok and that is one of the disadvantages of blogging.

So many of you have left comments for me that helped shape my sobriety and give me the strength to keep going and often in a very simple way.  That support is the gift we give eachother in this inter connected web. Please have a read and offer some of that golden salve of support to a fellow blogger who has once more come back hoping to try again.

Sober or Bust


Sunday, 8 January 2017

232-1/365 Stepping back into real life

Sunday morning and I am in bed with a coffee enjoying my last morning of "freedom" so to speak. Tomorrow I go back to work a ft er being signed off sick for THREE MONTHS! I just felt my blood pressure leap as thoughts of some of you shaking your head and thinking I am weak, lazy, cheating, skiving, layabout, disgraceful etc. I could go on but I have to remind myself that your thoughts shouldn't affect me as much as they do, you don't know my circumstances, maybe you aren't thinking these things, maybe all those negative words are my thoughts projected out onto you. Some of you most certainly will be thinking those things and that is ok too. All I know is that for me these last 3 months have been a complex mixed bag of feelings, emotions, dreadful sickness, anxiety, understanding, compassion, self doubt, depression, elation, more sickness, and on and on I could go.

I have guilt about taking care of my own needs and part of that has led me to this extended time off work when my body just collapsed and flat out refused to cooperate until it had recuperated sufficiently. I realise here I am still trying to appease the people who think it is wrong I have had so much time off. However, I feel like a whole different person, I feel like the me of about 11 years ago, the me that had ups and downs but was still able to get on with life. The me before I started drinking and hating myself and torturing my soul with day to day verbal attacks. The me that is vitally important in my life and those around me who rely on me. I feel "normal" again, or as normal as I want or allow myself to be. I never want to be too vanilla although I can now appreciate that vanilla isn't just sad plain and boring but simple, unpretentious and actually enjoyable. No one needs to be a tutti-fruity mocha chocolate fizz bomb mango passion chilli all the time. Vanilla sometimes is good.

It has taken me this long to pick apart the tangle of webs I have spun around myself and for years I have felt trapped in this web but helpless to get out of it. Previous attempts to get out haven't got down to the reason that I got tangled in the first place and so have only ever been a short term fix. What I needed was to slow down or in my case STOP completely and thread by thread unravel and the reconnect in the right order.

Imagine the back of you modern tv, with the cable, the Internet, the phone, the DVD player, the stereo, the surround sound etc. Now all of these have been added over the years as they have been introduced to the TV so basically you have a tangle (well if it looks like the back of my TV anyway). All these cables are important to you and are needed to allow your TV to function as you want it to but the problem comes when you keep adding, first a Wii box, then Apple TV, the X-box. Pretty soon you have a huge tangle of cables and it is in no way clear which one connects to what and should you need to isolate one lead, it's going to take some time to unravel it. Unravel being the key word here. Some people believe it or not (I struggle to) have as the years have gone on taken time to make small adjustments as they have added new cables so the tangle has been avoided in a systematic and orderly fashion. Others have reached a certain point of cable chaos and paused to take the time to sort them out to avoid impending disaster. Rarer still ( I think but maybe I am wrong) is the person who with each additional cable has taken the time to label it and attach it in a logical tidy way. Who are you, you organised freak? Ha ha joking. My cables were so out of control I had taken to not even turning on the TV cos something had gone wrong a while back and I couldn't be bothered to deal with that tangle to allow me to watch one show. Basically, stretching this analogy to the extreme, one day you go to vacuum and you pull out the TV stand to get behind to the actual cobwebs and dust bunnies and in doing so dislodge ALL the leads from the TV. DISASTER OF EPIC PROPORTION!!!   THAT my friends is where I ended up in October and it has taken me this long to connect everything back in the right order but also culling some dead leads like the VHS player and the dial up modem (I'm running out of metaphorical equipment I know the modem never went into the TV) ok I'm done now.

This time has literally been a reboot from the last 20 years. Whilst I have had some glorious years, really enjoyed raising my daughter and essentially been my own free agent when it comes to making decisions, I have had to cope with all the outcomes, disasters, life changing directions alone and that has been hard. I have had some good friends along the way but no family support or partner to take the reigns for a while. I have had my daughter every weekend bar one or two sleepovers for 18 years. No grandparents to babysit, or have her for the weekend, no partner or even ex-partner to just give me a break. Can you hear the sad violins playing ha ha. It is my lot and I did choose it I know but it has been a hard road and I have struggled to keep my head above water sometimes both financially and emotionally. Oh I'm getting a little teary now. This is not an exercise in self pity but an acknowledgement that it hasn't been easy and I am not just a weak whiny loser who can't hold her shit together. Ultimately I do believe everything happens for a reason and out of even the worse situations some good will come. What I do know for sure is that this would never ever have been possible if I had been drinking, I would have sunk further into the abyss and self pity/hatred and felt like a victim of circumstance rather than an independent woman temporarily weighed down by her baggage.

As I sit here today, things seem clearer, I have a direction I am headed and my mind feels freed up to make considered decisions. I am able to see the good and the bad and not make too harsh judgement on myself and know that I always tried my best even if that best looked pretty shitty to the outside world. Alcohol did act as a life ring in some way even if it was the very thing weighing me down in the end. Every decision even the poor ones have lead me to this point today even the years of drinking heavily have made me into the person I am right now. It was a blessing and a curse and one I can't change or rewrite to suit my needs. I am seven months sober and life just gets more interesting and deliberate each day. I still have a long way to go and still have some negative behaviours to tackle but I continue to be a work in progress and I am liking the progress and the person that is emerging. I even don't hate myself anymore, I can't say I am all the way to love but I definitely like myself, flabby belly, grey hairs, a few wrinkles (surprisingly few all things considered) and all. When I look in the mirror now I am much more likely to say "Ah bless you Ginger, you have done so well" than the old words "look at you, you disgusting wreck of a woman, how have you let it get this bad?"
Self-acceptance, self-love, healing the inner child are all very high on my agenda now and I have made huge strides in these areas and intend to do lots more but for now "Good job Ginger, well done!"

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Regrets-You'll have a few

DO NOT DRINK TONIGHT! You WILL regret it I can guarantee you. One more session to say goodbye is just a lie you are telling yourself. If you have any days under your belt stick with it because tomorrow's day 1 will be just another day 1 you'll wonder why it's not day 6 or 10 or whatever it would have been had you not drunk.

DO NOT DRINK TONIGHT! There is nothing about tonight worth drinking for, don't give in to peer pressure, do not think you'll go out with a bang, do not pretend you haven't been here on New Years Eve several times already hoping this will be your year. Pick up some car keys and cram as many people in your car as possible and be the designated driver. The more people you risk pissing off if you get drunk and can't drive the better. Do two runs and double the number of people reliant on you, put a kid in the car, one you care about and don't want to drive drunk with. Do ANYTHING not to drink tonight.

This time last year guess who was struggling with the voice? Guess who struggled all day going back and forth with cravings Last N.Y. Eve post I called the post 'A bad case of the tomorrow's' and how prophetic that proved to be. I cannot say enough to convince you that it will not be the right thing to do if you have ANY days sober in a row. Some if you will still be drinking and have been planning this as your last hurrah, that's ok because you have been building up to it, I get it I really do. BUT......if you are 1day, 2 days, 10 days, 65 days sober, even 100+ days sober please do not give in, I beg you.

I WANT THIS AS MUCH FOR YOU AS YOU DO, more maybe.  I care about all of you because I have been there crying, tired, lonely, disappointed, frustrated, bitter, resentful, regretful, puking, shaking, shivering, head pounding, ashamed, ASHAMED, exhausted, pathetic and depressed. I am occasionally one or two of those things now but never all of them together. That is what day after day, week after week was like for me and I no longer feel like that anymore. I don't want you to feel like that anymore because we are all so much more than this bitch of reliance on alcohol. We can really seize the moment of opportunity and make a different choice to get to a new day just by saying "No I won't give in today, maybe I will tomorrow but not today" and then say the same thing tomorrow.

I drank last New Years Eve, dear, kind SoberMummy tried to reach out and stop me but even her magically soothing voice wasn't enough to stop the runaway train of my thoughts. You can read how I felt on New Years Day 2016 Here which I titled 'Unhappy New Year'

I am not your mom, your boss, your conscience but I am someone who tried 37 million times to quit until finally it seemed to stick. I want you not to feel bad tomorrow and to start 2017 clear headed and ready to keep moving forward. If you do end up drinking I won't be mad, sad or disappointed in you because I came back to my blog so many times saying Day 1 AGAIN! and I know that bottomless feeling in my tummy.

SoberMummy said something to me in her follow up comment on New Years Day "remember that drinking today is only borrowing tomorrow's happiness" which excellently sums it all up perfectly. 

Do what you can to protect yourself from your other self. The blogs will be here tomorrow and everyone is a forgiving and supportive bunch and you will always be welcomed with an understanding ear.  Wishing you all a very happy new year 2017, I hope it is everything you are looking and hoping for.

Heartfelt wishes.

Ginger