Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Obstacle Course



I read loads of sober blogs, and I get hundreds of e-mails and comments from readers of Mummy was a Secret Drinker.

The ones that really make me want to cry, and yell in frustration, are the ones written by people who do the first few days over and over and over again.

They do four days sober, then back to day one. They manage ten days next time, then go on a bender. Three days. Four days again. Ad infinitum.

I get it! I really do. I've been there. We all have. And you do just have to keep persevering until one day it just sticks.

But now, with the benefit of six months of hindsight, I just want to grab them in a big bear hug and yell "Nooooo! You're doing the hardest part over and over, without ever making it to the good bits!"

And the problem is, the longer you spend wallowing around in those early dark days of despair, the more you manage to re-enforce the idea in your subconscious that that's what sobriety is all about.

So, if that's you, then think about it like this:

Imagine you're standing in a field which you've been in for a long, long time. Initially it was beautiful - filled with wild flowers, friends, sunshine and fluffy bunnies (maybe the bunnies are a bit too much? But, hell, I'm going with it).

But, over time, it's got more and more miserable in your field. There are still some sunny days, but there's an awful lot of rain, and some terrible thunderstorms. You keep thinking the flowers are growing back, but they die before they bloom. The bunnies are few and far between.

Then you start meeting people who tell you about another field, not too far away. They've seen it. Some of them live in it. It's everything your field used to be, if not more so. And they appreciate it so much more because they've seen what your desolate home looks like. They used to live there too.

"Hey, come and live with us!" they tell you. Because they're not mean and selfish. They know that there's plenty of room at their place for everyone, and they genuinely want more friends.

You really, really want to join them. But there's a hitch. There's a huge great obstacle course in the way. You can't see the whole course, only the obstacle directly in front of you. And you can't see the promised land on the other side. You have no idea how big the course is, how long it takes to get through it, or whether you're up to it.

But you know that you can't stay where you are. It's only going to get worse. So you take a leap and throw yourself at the first obstacle....

Initially it's not too hard. You've got bags of energy and enthusiasm. But, after you've been over a twelve foot wall, through a leech infested, waterlogged ditch, and dug under a fence with your bare hands you're exhausted. Fed up. You have no proof that this place even exists. You have no idea if you can ever make it that far, and you're desperate to go back to somewhere familiar, where you're not so tired, and cold and scared....

.....so you go back to your field. And initially it's great to be home. The other people stranded there welcome you back with open arms and tell you that the alternative field doesn't really exist. You're comfortable. You know what you're dealing with. You think you can see the sun coming out and a bunny in the distance....

....but you were fooling yourself. There are no bunnies left any more. The thunderstorms come harder and harder. Eventually you throw yourself at the twelve foot wall again. You brave the leeches again. You dig the tunnel. You make it to the fifth obstacle this time before you go back to the beginning.

You go back because you have no proof. You don't know how long it takes. You don't know if you can do it. You're exhausting yourself by doing those first few obstacles over and over again. It's just too hard.

So, if that's you, then listen to this. Because I do know (as do many people reading this who I'm hoping will back me up in the comments below). I am going to say it really loudly:

IT DOES EXIST! IT'S EVERY BIT AS GOOD AS YOU'RE HOPING. IT TAKES ABOUT 100 DAYS TO BE ABLE TO SEE IT, AND ABOUT SIX MONTHS TO GET THERE. YOU CAN DO IT.

The truth is that the hardest bit of the obstacle course is the beginning. So you really don't want to keep re-doing the wall, the leeches and the digging. Once you're through those, the other obstacles get easier, and they're further apart. And you get stronger, and fitter and more able to cope.

One thing to look out for is 'false summits'. Sometimes you think you've got there. You've seen no obstacles for ages, and you think THIS IS IT! Only to be confronted by a whopping great wall. (See my post on Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms).

But by now you know how to scale those suckers. It's no biggie. You almost start to get a sense of achievement from making it to the other side of each one. After all, a field with no challenges at all in it would be a little....flat and featureless.

So, my fellow adventurers, pack up your bags, say goodbye to your field, throw yourself at the obstacles and KEEP ON GOING! Do not look back until you get to the end!

For more inspiration, read The Sober Diaries. You can read the first few chapters for free by choosing the 'look inside' feature. Click here in the UK, here in the USA and here in Australia.

Love SM x



48 comments:

  1. I needed this post today. I am finding the cravings terrible this evening. 13 days in, and struggling struggling struggling. Annie x

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    Replies
    1. Annie, I e-mailed you. I hope you got through yesterday ok.... If so, YOU ROCK! If not, YOU STILL ROCK! Love SM x

      Delete
    2. This is quite beautiful and inspirational. Thank you! X

      Delete
    3. REAL URGENT EFFECTIVE SPELL CASTER TO HELP BRING BACK EX LOVER AND SAVE MARRIAGE https://urgentspellcast.wordpress.com/

      Hello everyone my is Elisa Keily am so over whelmed with joy all thanks to Dr Raypower spell.my husband left me for another woman few years back and I was very devastated cause I never did anything wrong to him,I was left with my two kid and a job that pays little.i was almost giving up until I saw a testimony online about Dr Raypower and I decided to contact him.i explained my problem to him and he assured me I'll see a positive result after 24hurs,surprisingly my husband came back the day after the spell begging me to forgive him and promised to never leave.my husband has been back for 6 months now and we've never had any issues, am glad I didn't doubt Dr Raypower cause he sure can solve any problems with fast relief you can also contact him for help now

      Email: Urgentspellcast@gmail.com or Urgentspellcast@yahoo.com

      Website: http://urgentspellcast.website2.me/

      Blog: https://drraypower.blogspot.com/ 

      WhatsApp: +14243308109


















      REAL URGENT EFFECTIVE SPELL CASTER TO HELP BRING BACK EX LOVER AND SAVE MARRIAGE https://urgentspellcast.wordpress.com/

      Hello everyone my is Elisa Keily am so over whelmed with joy all thanks to Dr Raypower spell.my husband left me for another woman few years back and I was very devastated cause I never did anything wrong to him,I was left with my two kid and a job that pays little.i was almost giving up until I saw a testimony online about Dr Raypower and I decided to contact him.i explained my problem to him and he assured me I'll see a positive result after 24hurs,surprisingly my husband came back the day after the spell begging me to forgive him and promised to never leave.my husband has been back for 6 months now and we've never had any issues, am glad I didn't doubt Dr Raypower cause he sure can solve any problems with fast relief you can also contact him for help now

      Email: Urgentspellcast@gmail.com or Urgentspellcast@yahoo.com

      Website: http://urgentspellcast.website2.me/

      Blog: https://drraypower.blogspot.com/ 

      WhatsApp: +14243308109

      Delete
  2. Am just over 4 months in and memories of that first week or 2 keep me going. It really does get easier! Not easy at times but easier! I don't want to go back x

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  3. Gosh, that was timely. It was Day 15 last night and I had that Sunday night feeling. Nice glass of red (or two or three) with a roast on a stormy NZ evening felt like it would go down a treat. The voices began. I was this close (finger and thumb next to each other) And then, begads! I get your latest blog in my inbox and thank the Lord, I managed to stick it out. It was a close shave so a hearty thanks because this morning I am so very relieved that I feel refreshed, and ready for a productive day. Hanging out for those bunnies though...x

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    Replies
    1. Yay! So glad you managed it Pom! Well done you! Xxx

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  4. Love the analogy SM, sometimes it rains and is stormy in the new field the but the sun always comes out again and everything looks better and the air smells clean afterwards because in the new field the storms always pass. I feel like I am now standing just inside the new field. Glad to be here but a bit nervous about going all the way in. Thank you for being so welcoming and beckoning us. Have a great day. xx

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  5. at over 4 months now I think I'm having a little storm of my own. will keep on going though, through the wind and rain.

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  6. ha. true story ;-)

    think you described the journey well, SM.
    and yes - the other field is certainly brighter with way more sunshine.

    (mefixingme...blogger wont let me in?)

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  7. What an awesome post. I'm saving this on my sober pinterest board. Day 3 for me, all I can see is the first obstacle, but I'm feeling hopeful.

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    Replies
    1. Hey, mojojojo! Hope you're still climbing those obstacles? Merry Xmas! Love SM x

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  8. I'm battling on for a dry February after doing dry January. I just adored how you used this imagery to describe the journey to sobriety - I can see it now! I've got visions of little bunnies scampering and tall foxgloves swaying in the breeze! Thank you Clare! XXX

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  9. I'm back to day 1 today as I'm sooooo miserable in that horrible field knowing what the other field is like. Thank you for your wonderful blogs SM - I haven't stopped reading them since my 'fall' late November and will spend a good chunk of today going back over them. You're amazing! xxx

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    Replies
    1. So sorry about the tumble! So glad you're back! Huge hugs xxx

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  10. Wow SM! The one post I didn't read until now! Thank you for your words of encouragement back then! I will refer to it when the shit hits the fan! Or anytime the wine witch decides to f with my head!
    Love you!
    Mel

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  11. Thank you so, so much for this advice. I am at the wall right now, trying to scale the darn thing. I'm at day 62...I've been at day 62 several times. I keep going back to the start. This time I'm going to get past this obstacle, to that field you talked about, with all the sunshine. The one that DOES exist.

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  12. Hi SM and thank you for writing what I think is one of the most powerful blogs on Alcohol FREEDOM! Do you know how many times people on Soberistas post a link to this blog to help someone?? Seems like at least once a day!!

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  13. I needed to read this thank you. Made to 104 days then caved. BUT didn't enjoy it which I think is a massive step in the right direction.

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  14. That's exactly what it's like! I've had countless day ones, like, A LOT OF THEM and it was nice and welcoming at first when I drank again. People were supportive -- they missed me -- but the next day the thunderstorms came back in and didn't leave until I got sober again. You've described it perfectly, and you've gotten me excited to get to 6 months. Thank You!

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  15. I love this - thank you for writing it and inspiring me when I am still struggling to get out of those dark days xx

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  16. Beautifully expressed. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I'm on my umpteenth Day 1. I will dig in and prevail.

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  17. Hi, SM! I know you wrote this ages ago, but I have only now found your amazing blog (via Soberistas). I am back to Day 3 yet again after having done two 10 day stretches just in 2017. For some reason that day 11 is a stumbling block for me. I feel it was such a blessing for me to find this blog post. The obstacle course analogy really resonates with me (as does most anything you've written!). I am so sick of Day 1's. So, thank you so very much for sharing this blog with us. I will be depending on it heavily to push past day 10 (fingers crossed). xx With much gratitude xx

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  18. This is a wonderful inspiring post, and I do not mean to discourage anyone with my story, but I think it is also important to address what is actually making you feel so miserable in sobriety! I was sober for 2 and a half years at one point, and never stopped craving alcohol. I was depressed and miserable and restless the whole time. There were deeper issues and needs that were never addressed, and I didn't have the means nor the support to address them. Back out I went, for 23 YEARS!! Today I am on Day 26 with a whole new mind set. Not craving alcohol, feeling clear and strong. A whole different ballgame this time around.

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  19. I absolutely love this, and it makes so much sense to me, where my field (life / world) that involves drinking seems desolate and not the way it used to be or at least seem to be to me, i.e., filled with similarly minded great friends, all looking to have a great night out, having lots of drinks and everyone with funny stories the next day to talk and laugh about.... these days those friends are still in my life but without me realising it, my interactions has changed with them... while I still see them and maybe they might drink with me (some may not even), I am always drunker and don't remember large chunks of the night and more often than not who carried me out of the taxi and up the stairs to bed. The reason I guess I'm saying this is because for me and for the vast majority of people I imagine reading these blogs that are contemplating or already on the path to giving up booze, your fields are probably not that dissimilar to mine... however I also have to believe that there are plenty of drinkers who are still in 'drinking fields' that never become desolate and friend free. And its at this point that I have to admit to myself that my own particular drinking field is no longer working for me.... my friends who may continue to drink 'sensibly' / 'responsibly' left my field a while ago for a different place, a place I know won;t work for me..... so while the new sober field may contain lots of similarly minded and lovely new friends, I know I don't want to walk away from my old friendships either. But I need to find a field where there is an overlap between my new happier, non-destructive sober field and theirs.... one where we can all be comfortable together and enjoy spending time together. I really hope and do honestly believe that there are friends in my life where that will be possible, once I make the journey.... and right now I'm looking forward to the day that I get there even though the path ahead may be rough at times. Today is day 5!

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  20. I'm 31 and have drank almost daily for half my life. Change has come and I'm declaring that out loud! Today, I'm on day 12 of my journey. I started reading your book two days ago and have just reached this chapter. The visualization about the bunnies has meant and means more to me than most things I have ever experienced in my life. I was in tears reading it and I'm in tears as I type this. The rabbit is a very near and dear creature to my spirituality and your words have truly touched my soul. Thank you so much for being brave and transparent and sharing your story. I don't know you, but I love you. I will get to the field of bunnies! Xx -jes.

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  21. I really needed this post!
    Back at day one, with a hangover from hell!
    I'm so fed up of starting that obstacle course over and over !

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  22. I'm on day one again. Sick and tired of my mind tricking me into a glass even though I know how immensely happy being drink free makes me...well, let's do it again

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  23. Just finished one year sober. It does get much easier. 95% of the time, I do not even think of drinking. I would say the first three months were the hardest for me. Now I am very happy I'm sober. It helps to follow a program and have a community - I use WFS. I probably would not be sober without it. I certainly wouldn't have found this beautiful green field, with all the bunnies. Find your program, and your people. The program leads you through the obstacle course, and the people make it wonderful to be there.

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  24. Well fuck, I did it again. After 3 weeks beer free, I "treated" myself to one beer while out to eat with the family. Like clockwork, that one beer turned into five. I have been fighting this cycle for over four years. Four years ago, when my son was born and my dad passed away, I decided that alcohol had no place in my life and only brought regret and a hangover. Here I am four years later, with more insight but still a problem. How do I make it over the hurdle when I am surrounded by people drinking?! I am not an AA type person. That would require me to attend meetings and declare to the world, I'm an alcoholic. I can go weeks, even months without drinking but once that beer touches my mouth, 1 turns into 5 or 6 or 7...
    As the daughter of two alcoholic parents, and step parents, I am so fucking over this shit. Ugh, how the hell do I get to 100 days!?

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  25. First time reading your blog Clare - thank you .
    This describes me to a T. 5 years into trying to recover and failing to reach the magic field . It’s exactly right -
    Why would I want to go through this cycle over and over again, especially as I know for sure that my field is getting worse and worse ...

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  26. Wow! I really needed this today. I’m on day number 6 and it’s the push I needed. So very visual and very relatable. Thank you xxx

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  27. Day 10 and I think I got lucky. I've been through the ditch/wall/all of it, before, and before that. I have it this time by recognizing this ^^. It's so so true. So much love in my heart for these words.

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  28. It does exist and Clare is telling the truth. This post made me smile because that was me. Finally I made it though and this is year 5 of sobriety I have entered. Someone said to me the other day that they knew they were "lucky" they could drink, but I didn't buy that for a second. The lucky ones are the ones who find freedom, self respect and peace of mind. I am thankful for blogs like Clare's, the sober schools blogs, Lucy Rocha's blogs and reading Alan Carr's book on alcohol. The blogs kept me going. I decided to have faith in what they said about this other place that I now live in. It's true. Great blog Clare. Thank you.

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  29. 100 days! That seems so terribly far away! Today, I am 38 days alcohol free. That means I have 62 more days to reach 100 days. That's almost 9 weeks. OK, it doesn't sound quite so bad when I think in terms of 9 weeks; it's a much smaller number. In reality, that's just over two months. It's November 17, 2019, today. So, I'll get through the holiday season and into January and sometime mid-January, I'll hit 100 days and I will begin to feel good, right? The bunnies and flowers and the beautiful field, right? But oh I have a huge obstacle course with the holidays ... and being with my family and all of the wine and bourbon flowing liberally ... I wonder if I can do it. I'll have to read your blog over and over and listen to your book or read it ... Thank you, Clare, for your wonderful wit and well-researched and well-written blog and book.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three (3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster Dr Azuka have help a man to get back her wife and i gave him a reply to his email (dr.azukasolutionhome@gmail.com) and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 24 hours  that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Azuka..or add him up on whats-app +44 7520 636249

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  33. i want to inform the public how i was cured of HERPES Simplex Virus by a Doctor called Dr.EBHOTA. i visited different hospital but they gave me list of drugs like Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex which is very expensive to treat the symptoms and never cured me. I was browsing through the Internet searching for remedy on HERPES and i saw comment of people talking about how Doctor EBHOTA cured them. I Was scared because i never believed in the Internet but i was convince to give him a try because i was having no hope of been cured of HERPES so i decided to contact him on his email, i searched his email on net and i saw a lot of people testifying about his goodness. when i contacted him he gave me hope and send a Herbal medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me, am a free person now without problem, my HERPES result came out negative. You can contact him on
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    ReplyDelete
  34. i want to inform the public how i was cured of HERPES Simplex Virus by a Doctor called Dr.EBHOTA. i visited different hospital but they gave me list of drugs like Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex which is very expensive to treat the symptoms and never cured me. I was browsing through the Internet searching for remedy on HERPES and i saw comment of people talking about how Doctor EBHOTA cured them. I Was scared because i never believed in the Internet but i was convince to give him a try because i was having no hope of been cured of HERPES so i decided to contact him on his email, i searched his email on net and i saw a lot of people testifying about his goodness. when i contacted him he gave me hope and send a Herbal medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me, am a free person now without problem, my HERPES result came out negative. You can contact him on
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    ReplyDelete
  35. REAL URGENT EFFECTIVE SPELL CASTER TO HELP BRING BACK EX LOVER AND SAVE MARRIAGE https://urgentspellcast.wordpress.com/

    Hello everyone my is Elisa Keily am so over whelmed with joy all thanks to Dr Raypower spell.my husband left me for another woman few years back and I was very devastated cause I never did anything wrong to him,I was left with my two kid and a job that pays little.i was almost giving up until I saw a testimony online about Dr Raypower and I decided to contact him.i explained my problem to him and he assured me I'll see a positive result after 24hurs,surprisingly my husband came back the day after the spell begging me to forgive him and promised to never leave.my husband has been back for 6 months now and we've never had any issues, am glad I didn't doubt Dr Raypower cause he sure can solve any problems with fast relief you can also contact him for help now

    Email: Urgentspellcast@gmail.com or Urgentspellcast@yahoo.com

    Website: http://urgentspellcast.website2.me/

    Blog: https://drraypower.blogspot.com/ 

    WhatsApp: +14243308109

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete