Monday, 23 November 2015

Living Life in Control

Living Life in Control is the Soberistas strap line (see if you've never come across this fabulous website).

I'd always thought (with my old advertising hat on) that it was a little....uninspiring.

Why not, I wondered, go with something more emotional, like Finding Freedom? Or zen, like Stillness and Peace? Or gung-ho, like Fighting the Wine Witch? Or embracing, like Staying Sober Together?

Living Life in Control sounds like the advertising line for adult incontinence pads (and, yes, I did work on the brand strategy for those at one stage. It wasn't all glamour).

But now I get it.

You see, when you're drinking (a lot), you are never totally in control.

Even when you're sober, you can't control much of your life (as more and more time is taken up drinking, or recovering from drinking), your moods (which lurch from euphoric to suicidal), or your thoughts (as the wine witch has taken up permanent residence in your head).

(For more on the wine witch see The Wine Witch)

And when you're drunk you're definitely not in control. Just one or two glasses in, and all those good intentions go out of the window.

You can't control how much you're drinking, what you're eating, or what you're saying and doing. A bottle down and you're hoovering up the calories, spilling all the secrets, and dancing on the tables like a woman possessed (which you are). 

So, actually, Living Life in Control has, for me, been one of the best things about being sober. I know exactly how I'm going to feel every morning (perky), I have hours extra in the day to get things done, and I'm generally even tempered and level headed.

I've taken this control thing to dizzy new heights. I have endless 'to do' lists. I have a huge kitchen diary with everyone's movements detailed. I have a rota on the front door showing which child needs what to take to school, plus all the after school activities etc. Then there's the 'highlights board' which shows the week's main events - all colour coded.

At least that's how it was until recently.

One of the very irritating things about breast cancer (along with the hushed voices people use when the talk to you, the way some people just disappear out of your life, and the preoccupation with death), is the TOTAL LACK OF CONTROL.

In less than three weeks the children break up for the school holidays. In four weeks it'll be Christmas. Usually I would be planning Pantomimes, menus, expeditions and sifting through party invitations.

But I don't feel able to plan, or commit to, anything because, until I know my chemotherapy schedule, I have no idea what I'll be able to do and what I can't.

I haven't updated the highlights board for ages, as it's just too depressing listing 'hospital visit' as the main event for the week.

Then, once I start chemo, I'll lose control of my physical wellbeing, my appetite, my hair follicles - pretty much everything.

This evening - finally - I'm meeting the oncologist. It was postponed from last week due to various administrative errors (again, out of my control).

I'm hoping that, once I've had this meeting, my life will feel slightly less like trying to juggle with jelly (that's Jello to my friends over the pond).

In the meantime, I keep reciting to myself: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Love to you all.

SM x


  1. I too find those words comforting. Good luck. Mx

  2. Thinking of you everyday SM. Let everyone else take control for a while. xxxx

  3. I keep losing comments. If you get this twice, sorry!

    Contro, and anxiety go together. I tried so hard to control other aspects of my life as my drinking got more compulsive. Regis and restrictive diet. Intense and excessive exercise. Hours planned. Regemented.

    In the end, the out of control drinking was too soul crushing. I couldn't make up for it with everything else, and I was forever chasing an unreasonable end.

    When I start out with one choice, not to drink, I can control that.
    From there, I can go with the flow with a clear and balanced mind.

    The serenity prayer always helps. Always.

    Stillness and peace!

    1. Hear hear! The stillness and peace quote was especially for you, Anne xxx

  4. I think I am an over-the-top control freak. I always wonder if alcohol is the one area of my life where I can let go of control. I do get scared if the control is running away from me. But does the control-freakery invite a vent? In the meantime, two bits of advice. One - breathe, breathe, breathe. You can always complement this with the advice given to Bruce Willis in Die Hard - topically, may favourite Christmas movie - to take your socks off and make fists with your feet. The second, try to focus on Christmas - the semi-frivolous aspects like stocking fillers and colour themes for giftwrap -to give you something you (a) feel you have control over but (b) it's not a deal-breaker if it doesn't quite go according to plan. Hope this helps.

    1. That was my rational too. I do formed and excelled in every other part of my rigid life, drinking was my escape.
      Until it wasn't.
      And I knew it, because my control freak side started wanting me to control how much I drank, and every time I failed it was another reason to hate myself.

      Keep an eye on it. It's an inside thing more than anything else.

    2. oh, sounds so familiar, Anne. And I love the Bruce Willis quote and advice on Xmas MLC - thank you!

  5. I love the serenity prayer x Be strong SM. We are here for you. x

  6. the Pema Chodron book i just read and liked is all about living with uncertainty and change. some of it is a bit over my head but it has made me a bit more accepting about how things are ever changing...the fundamental ambiguity of being human as the book phrases it. Timely for me as my dad just had a bad accident and that is certainly full of uncertainty
    not sure you will see this today but there is a free book on kindle you might like up today. i just got it, looks great and have read some of it. got the link from another blog hip sobriety which i love

  7. I used to be a control freak in every aspect of my life, I remember thinking if I could control everything else it would counteract the fact that I had no control over my drinking. Now I'm sober, I still like things "just so" but I'm far more relaxed in general. Control the things you can,k try not to worry about the things your can't. Wishing all the very best for your treatment.

  8. SM, also wishing you the very best for your appointment today. I'm now feeling like I'm regaining some control, which feels amazing. I'm on Day 25 today, which is the longest time, other than during pregnancies, I haven't had a drink since I was about 16. You have helped me with this more than you can imagine. Thank you so much xxx

    1. Well done lovely Pickle! 25 days is really awesome work! Hurrah! Xxx

  9. Dear SM, I thought your appt was due before now. See - you are regularly in my thoughts - and prayers. The serenity prayer - so awesome - for so many aspects of life (eg husbands!!). Well hope the next stage of treatment goes as smoothly as these things can. You are so strong. Lots of virtual hugs and positive vibes into the atmosphere for you. Thanks for helping me journey to that field of bunnies. Love SFM x

  10. Dear SM, I feel like I should be paying to read your wonderful blog! I stumbled across it earlier today and after reading this post I decided that to do it justice and to gain the most out of your blog I would go back to your very first post in March and start from there. I do so with some trepidation as I realise things must get very bumpy and sorrowful for you along the journey (reference to chemo in this post) but I am encouraged by your upbeat tone and obvious stoicism.
    So far I have read your posts up until May and have been struck by how much I am enjoying your writing. I've hardly managed to put down my iPad all afternoon and was just thinking "this gal should write a book" when I discovered in the post I am now up to that you are in fact doing just that! ( possibly finished by now?). Wonderful to hear and providing it's not of the "fifty shades of shady" variety (I'm certain it's not that lowly) I can tell it'll be great.
    I too am a middle aged woman with three children (almost adults now though) and I'm still pondering my place on the alcohol dependence spectrum. Suffice to say that I am not comfortable with my current level of wine consumption (3-5 bottles per week usually spread over 4 days - evenings only, usually alone so yes binge drinking). I can go days, weeks and once a year a month at a time without booze but it is not without making a conscious effort to abstain. I don't feel in any way physically dependent but mentally and emotionally there is no doubt I use alcohol to numb and dumb feelings down.
    I am bracing myself for reading more of your journey and know from having 3 close friends who have battled and conquered breast cancer (all under 50 as well), that despite your outward strength and positivity, there are times that life will just suck and you will probably (understandably) get bogged down with the unfairness of it all. I hope your journey (you probably hate that term, I do) so far has been tolerable and that you have had much support both virtual and in real life. I will continue reading and hope to be up to speed soon. My apologies if my comments are irrelevant but I am only up to May so I've 6 months to catch up on! Thank you for your informative and entertaining posts so far, I've learned a lot from you already. I am still in the hunting and gathering information stage and have read many of the books you mention (in fact I found your blog through Mrs D Goes Without's blog list). I have been cutting down quite considerably (MODERATING if you will) but logic and gut feeling is telling me your way (Allen Carr's,Jason Vale's...etc etc) is the only and best way to go in the end. I guess I'll stay in my little bubble of denial until I'm truly ready to take the AF for good plunge.
    I wish you well with your upcoming round of treatment and hope that you suffer minimum discomfort and maximum results. Take care of you. Love FS (fence sitting) x

    1. Welcome fence sitting! So glad you found me! Keep reading, and thinking about it, then - when you're ready - join us! Big hugs xxx