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!"