Friday, 2 March 2018

Small bottoms and BIG bottoms

After reading SoberMummy's latest post here I was reminded that sometimes you have to reach bottom to be able to get back up. I'm not sure that's true for everyone but for some it may resonate. Just like in life there are small bottoms and big bottoms, I fall into the BIG bottom group both literally and figuratively.

There is a quote from Friends when Rachel says "I really thought I hit rock bottom. But today, it's like there's rock bottom, 50 feet of crap and then me"  that is a big bottom and some very slow learners need to hit a big bottom to realise how bad it is. We heavy drinkers have constant small bottoms: 
  • the time when you take a slug of something straight from the bottle
  • you pour wine or your favourite poison in a coffee cup
  • you hide bottles from loved ones so the don't see them in the recycling 
  • you go to a different shop to buy booze because you don't want your local shop to know how much you drink (they KNOW, by the way)
  • you worry in the morning that people can smell last night's alcohol on you 
  • you drink all of  wine or vodka by 8pm and panic cos you are too drunk to drive but not drunk enough to see out the rest of the night.
These are just a few small bottoms where you are very aware that "normal" drinkers don't behave like this and that you see you have a problem but you are able to gloss over these small bottoms by a) drinking through them b) compartmentalising that thought and shoving it away c) have a small pity party crying and promising to change tomorrow (and then doing exactly the same thing the next day) d) resign yourself to the fact you feel powerless to change and accept that you don't know how to stop

Big bottoms on the other hand are hard to gloss over but still vary in degree from person to person. Some big bottoms are HUGE life changing events, getting a DUI, losing your job because of your drinking, spouse leaves or throws you out, you hit or kill someone in your car.  These are the extreme of bottoms but even then some people don't change.

I am talking big bottoms that become a catalyst for change and each of us will have our own individual line in the sand that once crossed somehow socks you between the eyes and you can no longer deny or hide behind excuses. Some bottoms I have read about and know from a few friends have been:
  • thinking you were still able to drive and hitting a parked car but driving off cos no one had seen it
  • falling down stairs and knocking yourself unconscious until next morning but then not going to hospital to check for concussion because they would know you'd been drunk cos of the smell
  • falling over in the kitchen and breaking two front teeth as you hit the oven door
  • driving to work with a colleague in the morning after 3 bottles of wine the night before - pulling over to puke pretending like nothing was wrong with it- only to have the colleague say they'd rather not car share with you again
  • seeing a picture of yourself dancing with your top off (still with a bra) in a club with work people and not recalling any of it.
As for my own bottoms, well I have three that prompted me to quit for a significant period of time. I have way more than 3 btw but these three scared the heebie jeebies out of me prompting an immediate cessation of denial and therefore drinking. Maybe 4 years ago, I quit for 138 days following waking up on a Saturday morning with sick on my pillow and face that I had seemingly slept through. Scary moment. The next one prompted my 14 month period of not drinking when I was so drunk I had to crawl up the stairs on my hands and knees and was so ill the next day that I thought I was about to have a heart attack and die when I took my dogs out for a walk in the afternoon. The most recent one spanned about a week and involved waking up on the sofa at between 1am and 3 am not knowing what time I had fallen asleep blacked out, and the last thing I remember was about 7 or 8pm. What sealed the deal was I sent my daughter a message about 18:10 one evening when I got home from work asking about a CD she had bought me. Next morning I responded to a message she sent me at 23:30 (past my normal bedtime on workdays) but then I asked her why she hadn't responded to my CD question, to which she said she had. I then scrolled through looking for the question and discovered we had been messaging all evening back and forth and I had been helping my daughter with some issues at uni about friends, roommates and problems in the house. Mercifully I was giving good solid parental advise free from scorn and swearing but I have ZERO RECOLLECTION OF ANY IF IT! It looks like I called her also but that will remain a mystery as I daren't ask her about it. So on the one hand I am still a good mom when I am in a blackout but on the other hand how can you be a good mother and be in a blackout.

The shame of this all is it has been like this since November and I have been trying the odd few days here and there to get some days under my belt only to make it to day 4 and start again. I have even make some reckless proclamations "I feel like I never want to drink again" only to then drink 2 days later and abandon the blog. Truthfully, as I am sure we can all attest to, when we say those things we usually mean it. I make no such statement today except to say tomorrow is day 7 and I feel clearer than I have in a long time and that I have a better attitude than in the last 6 months. Needless to say my full disclosure posts sometimes can be toe curling in their honesty and sometimes I do regret over sharing but I am quite a warts and all kind of gal.

Thanks for all the lovely comments you left on my last few posts and sorry I didn't reply but it is the constant support given that helps us keep coming back when the alcohol fog clears and we feel once again ready to tackle the oh so fragile state of sobriety.

Ginger

25 comments:

  1. Your post rang so true with me, Ginger! My last blackout was when I was driving, and that scared me to death. Also made a big public humiliation of myself at yoga the same day, and that was the second to last time I drank. I just couldn't go through that again.
    I am SO glad you are not giving up! I have always admired your spirit and I just want the best for you!!!
    xo
    Wendy

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    1. Thank you Wendy. I think people often confuse blackout with meaning unconscious but as we know better a blackout is more often when you are awake and "functioning" but then have no recall. Like you, right now, I don't want to keep putting myself through this.
      Thank you for your kind words Wendy.

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  2. Hi Ginger. What a great post! I think most of us here can relate to having small and big bottoms. I sure can! My recent big bottom was a health scare and at 60 something I knew the gig was up. It's only been one month but already I feel at peace and never want to go back into that dark dismal pit.
    You can do this too. Keep going! Day 6/7 is awesome! :)
    Hugs

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    1. Oh dear Joni, I hope you are doing ok now. One month to me looks pretty darn amazing and I am glad to hear you feel at peace. You know it is a dark and dismal place and you need to keep that front and centre in your mind.
      Thanks for keeping cheering me on all this time, it means a lot to me.

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    2. You are most welcome. I am glad you are back, Ginger. Let's do this! x

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  3. Great to have you back! I think Day 4 is the very hardest day and now you’ve got that one done so go you!! Double digits are just around the corner. I’ve been exactly where you are so I know how easy it is to do that 2-day/4-day shuffle for months, even years, at a time. Be -proud-of yourself for getting off that merry-go-round and back to day 6/7!
    Hugs,
    S

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    1. I really have been stuck on the 2day/4day shuffle since August and have been waiting for merry go round to let me off. Thankfully I'm off now and determined not to get back on again. Day 7 today and I am feeling very positive about it all again which I somehow different to the other times since August. Watch this space.

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  4. Hey Ginger. I know you think you overshare sometimes, but I love it when people are just honest!! It helps those of us out here reading to know we're not the only ones. Most of my "bottoms" revolve around worrying about smelling of drink the next day, being too hungover to function at work, and one memorable and delightful occasion when I threw up on myself whist hungover in the bath. Solidarity, sister. Anyway, excellent work on reaching day 7. I'm here doing this with you again!! Red xx

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    1. Yes I seem to remember you blogged about the sick in the bath. Doesn't all of this read ridiculously when you are not drinking but then when we are drinking we can minimise it so we carry on. Glad to have you on board again, you have been missed by many.

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  5. Ginger, I'm so happy to have you back. I think of you often. I know I have said I'm never ever drinking again, and I have truly meant it, then the next week I'm back drinking. We have all been there and know that this is your true intention, but sometimes addiction can get in the way of our true intentions.

    "you drink all of wine or vodka by 8pm and panic cos you are too drunk to drive but not drunk enough to see out the rest of the night."

    This is a feeling you described is something I never want to feel ever again, and for me is one of the worst things about drinking, probably worse than the hangovers (although I have forgotten how bad they can be)

    I would rather not have a glass of wine at all if I only had a bottle with about half left in it. The feeling of wanting more, of not being satisfied especially when it's too early to go to bed is something I can't handle.

    I'm glad you are at one week. Day 4 is always hard. You feel good, you have done four whole days, it feels long enough but not too long that you are sacrificing any real sober time. I'm glad you are past day 4.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, that's it! Day 4 is an achievement but it's easy enough to throw away cos it's only 4 days, that is exactly what I think each time. Each day after that feels just a bit harder to throw away. My landmark days are 7 (achieved today-yay me!) 10 cos all the alcohol is out of your system, 14 cos it's two WHOLE weeks and the 30 cos that's a month.
      I remember when you were wobbling and I was begging you not to drink and then within the month I had gone the same way. Hindsight is 20/20 and hopefully both of us can learn a valuable lesson for this.

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  6. Too many blackouts to count for me. Several small and I suppose you could call getting arrested for being drunken disorderly a big bottom. Then falling over and almost killing myself on a koi poind at my daughters school.I would say that was the clincher! That was the BIG moment but I still relapsed 3 months ater that to just double check this drinking thing. Some of us need more of a scare than others. I dont know why...perhaps its how ingrained drinking is in our identity and how few healthy coping mechanisms we have also lack of self love is a BIG reason. The thirst for oblivion is stronger when you don't love yourself and you dont know how to deal with life. Its still strong in me, sometimes I just feel like checking out and dissapearing. My last lapse 7 months ago was scary and the more I go back the more I worry if I have it in me to start all over again each time gets harder. You have to share the truth here in this blog, otherwise whats the bloody point right? I've overshared so much in my blog and sometimes I feel really exposed about it but the blog keeps me sober, I really believe that the regular checking in with your own path and the sharing and commenting on others is sort of like AA for people that dont want to leave the house:) Its good to tell it warts and all. xxx

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  7. All of your comment strikes deep in the core of me and I feel the same on so many levels. I too worry each time I relapse that I won't be able to stop and this time felt especially difficult for me and I was despairing that I might just die from this. When my best friend said she was more than a little worried about me I knew it was bad. I almost included your story about the koi pond but I couldn't remember the exact details (add memory loss to the list of things alcohol has ruined) and I didn't have time to ask you as it was a case of get this posted quick before I change my mind. It is like AA for us, I tried a few more meetings as others had encouraged me to and it makes me feel worse and more like drinking, so the opposite of how it is supposed to help. It you over sharing also helps a great deal as I often read your posts nodding my head in agreement. You also seem to read the same authors and explore things psychologically as I do which maybe why we bare our souls here, self disclosure and the group acceptance. There is a huge benefit to the "me too" support we get from others which is why I think it has been co-opted for other causes. We gotta keep moving forward and sharing our story along the way, we help ourselves as much as we help others.

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  8. I've read that blackouts happen much more frequently as we get older. It did in my case, and it didn't have to be after a lot of drinking. It was the beginning of me thinking "I could die from this." Other clues: thinning hair, loss of short term memory, looking MUCH older than I was, sleeping whenever possible in the middle of the day, losing hope, and finally, total apathy. Watching your life slip away in the same way you'd watch an afternoon TV show. Watching but not able to summon up the energy to really care.

    As a veteran in the war against alcohol (and what I mean by that is that it took decades for me to quit for good), I never really knew which sober attempt would "take" and which would not. It was like playing the lottery. But if you keep playing this lottery, you'll win eventually, if not TODAY!
    Every attempt is a step on the stairway of experience, and you are going upward, even though it doesn't always feel like it. I could only see this in hindsight, in my case. Ginger, you're going to succeed. You've got way too much heart and soul to lose this battle, and you've helped far too many people not to win your own. It's just a matter of time. ; )
    xoxo,
    Shawna

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    1. Thank you Shawna, very kind and very encouraging. Cherry picking what you said above, the memory loss jumps out at me especially when writing here I often think 'did I say that last post or recently?' The past 6-7 months have been a blur if not caring and just zoning out with crap tv that I then fall asleep during. Today I feel the opposite and motivated to change and get back on track and pick up where I left off but continue to examine where I am mentally and heed the warning signs before it jump off the edge again. This time feels like too too hard a fight to get back in control.

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  9. Wow! Your post just inspired the hit parade of my 10 most cringe-worthy moments! Woke up after a blackout with barf everywhere? Check! Drove the back roads to the gas station for wine and cigs after 2 (giant alcoholic sized) glasses of wine? CHECK CHECK!
    Then there is the guilt about being a bad (drunk) parent that weirdly makes you want to drink more. Like, "I should have quit years ago so they wouldn't have to see this but I've ruined their lives and I must punish myself by continuing to drink." There are so many ways for us to flagellate ourselves yet keep that addict lizard brain happy.
    Now for the pep talk! You are the woman who tore down her own fucking garage with her BARE HANDS, alone. You can kick this alcohol thing in the crotch. You can (AND WILL) do this!!

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    1. Oh Betty the "bad parent" bit stuck in my throat a bit as it is so true and exactly the thought pattern I used to have and still do. Self flagellation is my Olympic talent. Having said all that though.........
      FUCK YEAH!!!! I DID tear down my garage piece by piece all alone, unaided despite being scoffed at that I wouldn't do it. THAT is the reminder I need Betty and I thank you for remembering but also for you DIY guidance as well as your unwavering sober support.

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  10. My neighbour is missing parts of a few of his front teeth - I’m pretty sure it’s drinking related. But aren’t I lucky that I didn’t bash my pearly whites to smithereens last summer when I lost consciousness while vomiting during a hangover and hit my face on a chunk of marble?? I feel the same way when you talk about how hard it is to get back after each relapse and that you despair you could die from this. I definitely had a much harder time on again, off again all of 2017. Each time I relapse, the physical consequences get worse. Please continue to overshare!!! Look at all the amazing comments and discussion you have generated! Be kind to yourself and celebrate every success no matter how small. You did it before and you can do it again ‼️

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    1. Yikes PG, your near disaster with teeth on marble made my bum clench with imagined pain and consequence and I am very happy this didn't happen to you. Said friend sent me a picture of her teeth after it happened and I had imagined a tiny piece missing (like when I hit the handlebars when I was 11) but no they were almost in half.
      Like you I found it much harder this time to even WANT to stop as a small part of my thought what's the point. Today that thought seems alien to me yet I can't pin down exactly what flipped the switch but whatever it is I am not going to jinx it.
      How about we can BOTH do it again!

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    2. Ya I totally get that “flipped switch” feeling too - I was worried I would never get it back. It’s such a wispy, elusive thingy to grasp - I tried so many times. And...omg your friend...her teeth...😩....makes me realize how very lucky I was. For sure a “bum clencher” as you say lol ol. Let’s keep our jinx-free zones up&running full steam ahead! xo

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  11. I'm glad you are back, warts and all. I admire you and all the ladies above, because what is being shared is heart-felt, dogged-tired, hard knocks stories on how we are human, and trying to beat this beast of alcohol is hard. It is possible, but sometimes it takes many tries before it sticks, but stick it will! I believe that whole·heartedly, even when I'm struggling, even when I fail. You go GG!

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    1. Thanks Lia. We are all here for eachother and that is the beauty of this sober sharing. I always seems like someone can say the right thing to help us keep trying a little bit harder. We got each other's backs

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  12. I hear your pain. I loved inn that void for a long time. It is full of fear and hope and soul crushing disappointment.
    You can escape. Don’t drink today. Find some real life help, even if for a le whiletherap? Your family?

    You can doo this. If I did it, anyone can.

    The bottom is where you stop digging, nothing more.

    Hugs
    Anne

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  13. I don't think that you are over sharing at all Ginger. You are being honest to yourself. I've found that when I'm doubting myself, I re-read some of my blog. In particular I read my own personal 'big bottom': The one in which I (after a wine and vodka binge) had a blackout, had a 20 minute facetime conversation with my mother that I remember nothing about, bashed my head of a bedroom wall and then wet myself - meaning my husband and younger daughter had to change me. Re-reading that refreshes my memory and shame. I think it's too dangerous for me to become too complacent about my sobriety just yet. Even though I have been sober for 241 days now and I never ever want to touch alcohol again, I still think that one little slip up might just put me back at square 1.

    I can so relate to your 'bottom' list. I drank every night and I either had a blackout (it's a bloody awful feeling knowing something has happened but not knowing what) or I found I was drunk but not drunk enough with nothing left to drink.

    Have faith that this time, something is different, something will just click xx

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  14. My advise to you is that one little slip up may very well throw you back into drinking at an increased rate and quantity. Billy Connoly once said that when you relapse you don't start back where you left off. You end up where you would be if you had continued drinking.
    That is true for me in that when I had 'just one' drink at my nephews wedding I was thrown back into drinking for the last seven months and the volume from the get go was more than before. Be watchful around the one year mark as I have seen a few people try an experiment and them disappear

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