HONESTY

Boy this is a biggie!
Let’s start with being honest – alcoholics, (or problem drinkers), are all pretty much liars. Not only experts at lying to others but to themselves.
I’d been brought up with certain values, honesty being one of them. However, as my drinking got out of control so did my honesty values. Lies would roll off my tongue with increasing ease. I became so adapt at lying that there were times where I actually believed my own lies. One prime example was when I fell down the stairs, as drunk as a parrot shattering my arm. The story I told everyone was that the stair carpet was old and loose causing me to lose my footing. No way was alcohol to blame – (klaxon sound please) BIG FAT LIE; COLOSSALL!
Today I am firstly honest with myself; about my feelings, defects, strengths and behaviour. At the end of each day I write a diary, thinking of each of these things in turn. It’s usually just a very brief entry, not 2 A4 pages!! Sometimes I find myself writing something that I am not proud of but acknowledging it helps me to improve on my journey the following day.
My honesty with others is also paramount; unless of course, as I’ve been taught, it is harmful to myself or others, usually in this case I’ll write it down in my diary – it’s important to ‘get it out there’ because keeping it buried inside can be self-detrimental.
“The cruellest lies are often told in silence” Robert Louis Stevenson

Gardening

I have neglected our garden for years, particularly during sunny days, not good as it needs alot of tending. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One is we seem to have an abundance of frogs and I am terrified of them; much to the amusement of my family who enjoy tormenting me about it!

The second is that during my drinking days I would spend hours gardening with mug of wine hidden in the bushes. Weed, sip, weed, sip so on and so forth. By the time the family arrived home I would be three sheets to the wind, and wouldn’t be able to remember under which bush I’d hidden the wine. Perennial Pimms O’clock!

But ta-da over the last 2 weeks I have reignited my enjoyment of being in the garden and have set about doing an immense amount of work – without the Pimms pull or Chablis call. It has been wonderful. No anxiety or panic about discovery of my hidings, no collapsing at 7 in a drunken slump, no panic attacks or paranoia the next morning, no frantic searching the next day trying to find where I’d hidden bottles, mugs etc. The horrors of THEN mercifully gone.

The night after my first day of sober gardening I had a drinking dream. I haven’t had a drinking dream for years. I woke up in a real tizzy. What relief I felt knowing it was just a dream is indescribable.

Viva the joy of sober and guilt free gardening……..

Who I Was NOT Who I Am

It is extremely hurtful and bloody annoying when a person/s cannot avoid the temptation of reminding you about an incident that occurred during your darkest drinking days. Not just once but virtually every time you see them.  Why?  It is cruel.

Refuse to be a participant in their game, the game that will usually be the ‘poor me’, ‘look what you put me through’, ‘you should feel guilty about how you made me feel’.

It is important though to acknowledge my feelings, and not suppress them.  This can be self-detrimental.

Remorse will always be present about the past, BUT I AM NO LONGER THAT PERSON……..

Shame is a little whip always carried.  This whip which I am more than capable of stinging myself with, I do not need the help of others.  However, self-acceptance and self-love provides the strength to dump that whip and take control of my own emotions, not allowing others to try and take that control.

I am thankful for difficult people in my life, as they will show me exactly who I do not want to be.

Anyone who limits her vision to memories of yesterday is already dead.  – Lily Langry

HALT

Making time for yourself is so important, especially so in early recover where you are extremely weak and vulnerable. At all costs you want to avoid anything that could potentially lead to relapse.

During the 28 days I spent in rehab I learnt many things about myself.  Some of which I am still developing, for example, self-care and being self-less, (completely different to and often confused with selfish).

However,  there are 4 particular things I now avoid. These are – being hungry, angry, lonely, tired, (H.A.L.T.), four potential triggers that could have me reaching for that first drink, and potential triggers for many people struggling to control their drinking.

Hungry – drop in sugar levels. During my drinking days I would stave off hunger by drinking, regularly replacing meals with booze. When I stopped drinking I developed an incredibly sweet tooth, this is perfectly normal as your body craves the sugar it would normally be getting via alcohol. Therefore, it is extremely important to EAT.   I learnt how important regular food is, sounds silly but alcohol deprives you of more than self-respect, common sense disappears too!  (I usually never leave the house now without a taking a snack and a bottle of water with me!!).

Angry – boy! what an opportunity for feeding emotions, either to quash or fuel it.  My goodness did I drink if I was angry!  In the latter days of my drinking career 99% of the time the drink would fuel my anger to an inferno. Neither is healthy or desirable as those feelings need to be addressed and dealt with. These days if I feel angry I back chain to try to uncover why something has evoked such a negative feeling or reaction in me. I’ve found that if I take enough time and a close enough look I can often find the reason why, and resolve it in a healthy way.  On many occasions I remind myself of the Serenity Prayer – ‘accept the things I cannot change, and the courage to change the things I can’.

Loneliness (isolation) – this is particularly appropriate for me as I did most of my drinking alone and I isolated myself. I have asked my closest friends and family that if they ever notice me isolating myself that this should set their alarm bells ringing. I regularly see my chums, but in sobriety I have also learnt to enjoy my own company in a healthy, fulfilled and rewarding way.

Tired – I used to overcome tiredness by drowning it out with booze. Now if I’m tired I take a nap, (most days!).

No more drowning life out with booze! I now like to make every second count and enjoy life as best as I can, but I am mindful of the fact that it is important not to neglect myself.

Thief

You stole my opportunity to experience loving someone more than yourself.

You stole from me the experience of joy and left me and those I love with nothing but pain.

Your accomplishments would fill a mother with pride, your hope and patience is second to none. Though in reality you brought my mother tears and heartache; you are to be feared with admirable respect for your power.

You made my life hard, ensuring that I said and did things to hurt or confuse people. You used me to satisfy your evil desires.

But I am now free! Grateful to be one of the lucky ones who has escaped from your strangling, suffocating, deathly grasp.

I have learnt to be proud and live up to my responsibilities. I live hoping that my smile warms the hearts of those I love, delighting in their happiness and laughter – things you tried to steal from me.

My memories of the bad times have turned into important lessons. The good times, and there are so many, are precious memories to be treasured and relived.

I will always be alert to your stealthy presence; I am not fooled.

You will always be part of me, and my past, but what the future holds you are not.

PROBLEM WITH THE BOOZE?

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend.  I wonder how many people are waking up this Monday morning suffering from the effects of an over indulgent one?

Problem drinking can happen to anyone, discretely creeping up on you like a sniper in the dark, and then BOOM you’ve been sniped.

It is not selective or exclusive.

It has no morals or cares for anyone or anything other than to continue on its merry way to cause upset, heartache, destruction and sometimes leading to a person’s death.

It intensifies, fuels, breeds and exacerbates any feelings a person may have of inadequacy, paranoia, guilt and insecurity.

It distorts your mind so that you live in completely denial that it has you trapped.

It will have you lying, deceiving, endlessly breaking promises, and portraying of trust.

I know because I experienced all of this. I was a victim and because of this so were my family.

However, once upon a time I was a person who believed problem drinkers were people sitting on park benches with bottles of cider, stereotypes;  NOT someone like me. I was amongst the crowds of judgemental and intolerant people towards ‘drunks’, feeling safe in the belief that that would never happen to me. Little did I know, many years later I would be, the smug intolerance wiped off my face like the harshest slap I’ve ever experienced.  An experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

I have learnt that there are no VIP’s in this club; its members can be anyone, from any profession or walk of life.  Today I have tolerance and sympathy for anyone who ends up its slave.

I dedicate today’s blog to everyone who I have met along my journey but especially those who are still in its trap or have lost their lives to this demon.

I LOVE ME!

This morning I looked back over my file from when I was in rehab in 2014.

My diary entry for my first Sunday there says:

Today I learned that I need to take control of my own happiness rather than letting others control it…..I have made progress today as it has suddenly occurred to me that I’m starting to quiet like myself and that there is light at the end of the tunnel…”.

Whilst there I realised that for as long as i could remember I had constantly been wanting approval, for things, my actions, feelings, emotions, my very being, from others. Desperate to please.  Tormenting and blaming, myself if someone reacted negatively towards me, ridden with feelings of guilt.  All this chipping away at my self-esteem and confidence; and ultimately exacerbated by the poisonous effects of alcohol on my brain.

It has taken a long time for me to let go and set myself free of the constant care, need, (and often control) of what others think, a good few years. When I think back the need was at times completely suffocating. It is so so liberating knowing and feeling that I am truly content and happy with ME!

Taking responsibility for my own happiness has freed me from other people’s control, remembering that others can only ever control my feelings if I let them.
Of course things happen in life that I have no control over but I can choose how I react, and deal with it, which in itself is liberating.

I’ve just read this and I love it : “You are responsible for your happiness. In fact, you create it. You attract it. You manifest it. You are the architect of your reality. You choose your thoughts, your perceptions, and your reaction to external forces. You possess all of the tools needed to expand your consciousness, to choose happiness, to choose love. You are that powerful. Create the life you deserve. Vibrate love.”

Stress, anxiety and depression can be caused by living to please others, and neglecting ourselves, and loving ourselves.  Self-love isn’t vanity, or selfish, it means that you will only let people treat you the way you deserve to be treated.  It is self-respect – Love Me or Hate Me it’s your choice, but I LOVE MYSELF!