Wednesday, 4 November 2015

8 MONTHS SOBER!

I quit drinking eight months and two days ago. Since then my whole life has changed in more ways than you can imagine.

I went back and re-read some of the milestone posts along the way and thought I'd compile some highlights of the journey.

Here you go (if you click on any of the headings, you'll get the full post):

100 days sober

What could I have told myself 100 days ago? I could have given her a list something like this:

1. You will sleep more, and better, than you've done in years, but will be more tired than you can imagine.

2. You will discover that hot chocolate has magical healing powers, and that there really is a point to alcohol free beer.

3. You will feel ten years older and wiser, but look five years younger.

4. You will have to start to hate yourself before you can learn to love yourself again.

5. You will discover a passion for cleaning, tidying, weeding, sorting and clearing out - both literally and metaphorically.

6. You will obsessively read everything you can find about alcohol, alcoholism, and anything else beginning with 'alc'.

7. You will find that some of the really big hurdles (like parties) can be easy, but some of the small things (everyday stresses and upsets) can be terribly hard.

8. You'll find that that knot of anxiety you lived with for years was caused by the drink, not solved by it. Your best friend was actually your worst enemy.

9. You will become an obsessive navel gazer (not to be confused with a naval gazer - someone who stares at seamen). You'll constantly wrestle with questions like 'Who am I? Who was I? How did I get here? Where am I going?'

10. You will meet some incredible fellow travellers along the way. People who will make you laugh, cry and think. Hugely strong, brave and inspirational people sharing your journey.

Four months sober

The first few weeks did make an immediate difference. I was less puffy, I had clearer skin, shiny hair. I was sleeping brilliantly. I was less toxic.

But the changes kept coming. Now my whole being feels different.

It's like everything is starting to work together better. My body tells me when it's tired, or hungry. I get cravings for food that I later discover contain nutrients I need (see my post on PAWS and vitamin B).

If I drink a bottle of cold water on a hot day I can feel my cells re-hydrate. And, most intense of all, I feel all my emotions (anxiety, anger, elation, boredom etc) and am learning how to deal with them.

Perhaps most people are this in tune with their bodies and minds all the time. Perhaps they take it for granted. Maybe it's only because I lost the ability for so long that I see it as so miraculous.

Six months sober

Now I realise that you use 'one day at a time' until you no longer need it. It's there to stop you worrying about forever (which, in the words of Prince is a very long time) until you can cope with it.

And now, my friends, I can.

Now, after six months, I can truly see myself never drinking again. It doesn't scare me. At all. It's liberating. Exciting. Miraculous.

I'm not, I hope, being smug, or over confident. I'm totally aware how easy it is to fall off the wagon and end up back at Day One. I read stories about people like me doing just that all the time.

I also know about the ups and downs. This time next week I could easily be a shivering wreck again.

But, the point is, right now I am no longer scared. Or miserable. Or feeling denied.

So, if you're at the beginning of this journey, then listen to the King from Alice in Wonderland:

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

Seven months sober

If we can't see the joy in the ordinary, then how on earth can we teach our children to find it?

Being sober is more 'ordinary', but that is its joy. I've had it with the artificial ups and downs of drunk.

And, you know what? The extraordinary really does take care of itself.

Just you wait and see....

And here I am at eight months sober, older, wiser and more battle scarred. And I feel like I've discovered the biggest lesson of all about being sober:

You have to learn to cope with regular life without alcohol, because only then can you stay afloat when life decides to throw you lemons.

More on that one tomorrow.

Love SM x

16 comments:

  1. 8 months sober! You're a star. I'm still scrabbling around at the start, but your words shine bright. Annie x

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  2. You have to learn to cope with regular life without alcohol, because only then can you stay afloat when life decides to throw you lemons.

    This needs to be put on a beautiful background.

    Hugs

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  3. You nailed it again SM! Amazing how you captured my feelings in a few paragraphs! Thank you!
    Boston Strong Boston Sober
    Right behind you and moving back to Naples, Florida!
    I'll have to come up with a new title!
    Love you and happy to hear you are doing better! Wonderful news!

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  4. You have such a great attitude to life. It's infectious. Hope you are taking it easy. Lots of love x

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  5. I hope your feeling OK and thank you so much for posting, it must be a struggle!

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  6. i love your way with words and - being on the same sober timeline - do recognise many of your observations. besides that i have a great admiration for how you handle the lemons!

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  7. Congrats SM. You are my inspiration.xx

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  8. hard to believe so much has happened in 8 months. A lot to go thru. Hoping the next 8 go well. Love the 7 months post.

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  9. SM thanks once again for your words of inspiration, even having been thrown a great big lemon over the last few weeks. I've posted briefly to you so far, but wanted to introduce myself a bit. Like so many of us out there, our stories are very similar. I'm married to a lovely man and have three wonderful children. I live in a nice part of London, have a PhD and a a fulfilling career. Great so far, but here's the rub: I cannot control alcohol and it is the bane of my life. I've called myself Pickle after your post a while ago about pickles and cucumbers. I'm a great big pickle. I'm also one of the ladies on Soberistas you mentioned in a post who keep starting and stopping, and do a few days or weeks sober and then give in to the ghastly wine witch. But I haven't had a drink in nearly a week now, and this time it feels different, and I think this is largely because of reading about you. So thank you again SM, well done on 8 months, and I hope to be joining you on the other side soon. xxx

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    1. Hi Pickle! (Great name!) So glad you're here, and well done on week one! I'm sure you've done this already, but if not PLEASE read Jason Vale (kick the drink). His book is what made the difference for me. Big hugs to you! SM xx

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    2. Hello pickle! It sounds like you and I are in similar places.. (both literally and symbollically!) I've been reading this blog since spring, have read Jason Vale and a good few others, been on soberistas and even had alcohol counselling.. For some reason nothing sticks for more than a few days and as time goes by my self-loathing and sense of despair grows.. I found the obstacle course analogy really powerful. I don't want to be stuck in a muddy field! Well done on week one.. I will try my best to join you! xx

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    3. Thanks for the welcome SM. I have read Jason Vale but need to do so again, to try to get the message to stick. SWMum, good to meet you! Let's see if we can do this together and get out of our muddy fields. Xxx

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  10. Hi there Pickle and SWMum(what does that stand for by the way). I too am in the early days and am a stop start girl when it comes to this. So relate to SMs post on the obstacle course. It would be great to keep motivating each other via SMs wonderful blog. It has helped me (and continues to help me so much). I have to say that SM is responsible for saving my life. For the longest time I was beating myself up because I also have a great hubby, 3 fab kids, good career and could not work out why I was in this situation or how to get out of it. Then I found SMs blog - and I think it's gonna work this time. You rock SM. and pickle and SWMum and all you other lovely peeps rock too. Let's do this!

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  11. Yes! Let's do this! (SW mum = South West London mum!) I only have two little darlings but that's plenty!! :-)

    Happy alcohol free Fridays to you all. xxx

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