Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Hitting The Wall

Many years ago I had a great friend called M. We met during a gruelling two day job interview. She was way more prepared than me, and lent me one of her sharpened pencils.

That was the moment we bonded.

For the next decade we were BFFs. She was one of my bridesmaids. I thought we'd be friends in our bath chairs, waggling our walking sticks and false teeth at each other.

Then, one day, she disappeared. She stopped calling me, or returning my calls. I realised that, whilst she knew all my other friends, I knew none of hers, so I didn't even bump into her at parties any longer.

I had no idea what I'd done wrong. I was devastated. Even now, typing this still makes me feel weepy. I see her, from time to time, on Facebook, but we've not spoken for ten years.

Well, writing a sober blog in February is a bit like that.

In January you have thousands of friends. But, by the middle of February, half of them have disappeared. No farewells or explanations. Just silence.

The same is true of many of my fellow sober bloggers. You follow them religiously, their ups and downs and ins and outs. Then, one day, all their words dry up. Nothing more. Just their final post, mid story, left hanging.

Of course, you hope that all those ex readers and ex writers are tripping off into the happy, sober sunset, and that they've just outgrown the sobersphere. Don't need it any more. I do hope so.

But I know that, for those who quit at the beginning of January and are now on around Day 46, they'll be hitting The Wall.

The days in the middle forties are a classic time for people to give up giving up.

Why?

Well, the early days of sobriety are often called 'The Pink Cloud'. It's like a honeymoon phase - all new and shiny.

It's hard, obviously, but also a bit of an adventure. You can still vividly remember how bad the drinking days were, and you're loving the lack of hangovers and regrets.

Then you hit 'The Wall' which is said to be characterised by 'boredom, depression and questioning.' Sound familiar?

All the novelty has worn off, and you can't imagine life being this dull forever. Your memories of the dark days have started to fade, and all you can think about is what fun drinking used to be.

Predictably, the wine witch pipes up, saying 'Hey, maybe you overreacted! You're not that bad. Not a proper alcoholic! Perhaps now you can moderate!'

(If you're familiar with that one, then see my post: Did I Overreact?)

If this is you, then DON'T PANIC! It is perfectly normal to feel like that right now. It's the first (and worst) of the episodes of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) which you get, periodically, for many months after you quit.

(See my post: Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome)

This bleurgh feeling WILL go away, and the best of the benefits of being sober are yet to come.

You just have to scale that wall, and the other obstacles that follow it, to get to the promised land, which really does exist. DO NOT GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING!

Read my post on The Obstacle Course, I promise it'll help.

When I was back on day 46, and first encountered The Wall, I asked my more experienced readers "What's on the other side?"

Anne replied with one word: Freedom.

And she's right. So put those crampons on and get climbing! I'm right behind you, giving you a great big shove up the arse.

Love SM x





73 comments:

  1. Dear SM - Great post - good reminder - day 45 for me. Quite a few unsuspected cravings recently so I'm doing as much playing it forward and reading the reasons I quit, as I can. I've started re reading your earlier posts from when you were at the same stage as me and it's really helping. Thank you once again. Love SFM

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    1. Hi SFM! Huge congrats on 45 days - awesome! x

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  2. Morning SM. I'm still here and still loving every post! I'm on day 120 now and feeling good but a part of keeping me off the alcofrolics is reading your blog each day and meeting my new alcohol-free friends in an online forum. I know you sometimes feel like you're talking to yourself when people don't comment - i'm having that problem with my Single Plus Baggage blog too at the moment - but rest assured we are all here, hanging on your every eloquent word! Thank you so much! Love SPB xxx

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    1. Thanks for being here SPB, and huge congrats on 120 days! xx

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  3. I'm still reading and miss you if you don't blog for a day! Sorry, not that you have to blog every day or anything, just that I look forward to hearing your wonderful words of wisdom! :) x

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  4. Dear SM. Another wonderful post. You have a great writing style that is so informative, insightful and a pleasure to read. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and provide your amazing support. Day 18 here and your blog is a great and timely reminder and keeping me on track. I read your posts before going to bed each night and they always bring a smile to my face and a sense of calm to keep on keeping on. X

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    1. Thank you, Letigo, and congrats on Day 18! Keep on keeping on - you're doing great x

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  5. Just signing in SM and a timely post. I think I fell by the wayside around day 50 odd although xmas didn't help. No excuses though and am on day 43? Maybe. Anyway managed to watch the Wales ( win) rugby match on Saturday with just a pot of fruit tea (twinings do lovely ones that actually taste of fruit). Result. Actually remembered the match and enjoyed it! Also now find I am looking forward to my midweek becks blue tonight which would formerly have been one WHOLE bottle of wine. No wonder I was grumpy on Thursdays. Ridiculous behaviour x

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    1. Hi Sharon! Well doe on the rugby, and enjoy the Becks Blue - isn't it great? xx

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  6. you're so right. I am looking at the left hand edge of my screen with the Blogs I follow and some have been silent for a while now. Others have faltered but are back in the fight and although not strong myself I would help them along if I could. I feel like the Hugh Glass character in the Revenant - mauled by a bear and now dragging myself through some wilderness. I don't feel strong but I know that I can't hesitate for even a second (certainly at 6pm) or I will be back staring into the abyss again. I take great heart from your words and the writings of all the others. I too have been re-reading your older posts and they give me some hope that I can do this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Justonemore

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    1. You can do it, Justonemore! You've fought the bear off already, now you just have to keep going through that wilderness, and it'll all be worth it ;-) xx

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  7. Dang - I wish I'd read this last week. Classic day 42 fail.. but now I know, and next time I'll be on high alert at that point!!! Anyway, I'm still here SM, going nowhere despite my blip. Red xx

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    1. I can empathise red.. It almost gets too easy doesn't it, so we test ourselves! Well done for keeping it a blip.. Mine turned into a full on binge.. Never mind.. Sun is shining and it's behind me now (as is yours!)
      The only way is up!

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    2. Thanks for still blogging through it, Red. It's a great reminder for all of us that it's just not worth it... Big hugs xxx

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  8. Thank you for all your hard work. I will be a year sober tomorrow!

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    1. That's a fantastic achievement! Very well done you! I reach my anniversary next wk. What a difference a year makes (and what a ride it's been too!). Big hugs LNM x

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    2. Thanks, LNM! It has been a ride for sure but worth every bump in the road! I'm 15lbs lighter, my skin and eyes look awesome (for my age). I feel awesome!

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    3. Whoop whoop! I've left you a special message on today's post, threesomes ;-) And huge congrats to you in advance, LNM! Yay!!!

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  9. I remember asking you about it at the time, and you helped me over my own wall, having had 2 previous failed attempts at stopping that ended around day 45. It was so helpful to hear that it is an actual recognized phenomenon in giving up something, and that it's worth it to push on and scale it. Life is so much better on the other side! Xx ps I'm at 9 months on Sunday, thank you SM!

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    1. 9 MONTHS! Yay! You're in the home stretch now, SB! Huge hugs xxx

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  10. I don't often comment but I read ask your blogs. 18 months sober now and loving it.

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    1. Great to know you're there, Lucy, and six months ahead of me! xxx

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  11. No real fall off the Pink Cloud yet, tho a few weak mental wobbles. I stopped New Years Day, thanks - oh, thanks EVER so! - to Dry January, which I'd never even heard of. And i stopped with a houseful of booze - good booze thanks to the holidays! - and in the vicinity of which I've placed a number of signs: 'Read the journal!' (That i began writing on Day One) and 'One Day One is Enough!' (Fortunately, i live alone so no one else encounters my little billboards!). And one more thought that has really helped keep me going: Who ever wakes up (fresh and un-hungover) and thinks, 'gee, i really wish I'd had a drink(s) last night!'

    I agree about those who disappear - people are often so truthful and heart-rending in their accounts, you start following their journey, identifying with and rooting for them, and when there is a silence...you feel concerned, worrying about how they are doing. I can think of one in particular, her pain and struggle so evident you just want to reach out and give a hug. And she has been scarily silent recently.

    So thank you, SM! -- for your constancy and been-there wisdom and encouragement.
    I check in daily, finding each post another boost.

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    1. Just wanted you to know your "whoever wakes up " comment made me really smile....so true!!

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    2. Me too! I'm going to remember that! x

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  12. Everyday reader - don't plan on going anywhere but staying on the road to freedom - nearing day 70. Thanks SM.

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    1. Thanks, eeyore! Great to know you're there, and huge congrats on 70days - awesome x

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  13. I visit everyday (well, almost) and re-read your prior posts, over and over again. I admire your tenacity, wit, well-thought out, entertaining writing so much. I don't follow anyone else. This is not to say all the other women who blog aren't worth following, I just find you speak to me (and so many others). You have a gift, I hope you continue to write for a long while.

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  14. I am a daily reader but not daily commenter. January was a write off for me but I did keep blogging, cos one day I will beat this thing. Day 12 for me wooo-hoo 😇. Not seen day 12 since I fell off the 6 month wagon in April. I am sure some people stopped blogging cos they didn't want to publicly admit they are back on the sauce. Many will be back again when the time is right. I wish them good luck if they are reading.

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    1. You'll do it this time, GG! Keep blogging, whatever happens - we're all with you xx

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  15. I'm still following and reading your blog everyday sm. You help me more than you will ever know. I find it difficult to 'fit in' so please forgive me for not commenting and being a lurker..... A big thank you and pat on the back for everything you have coped with recently. You are an inspiration

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    1. Great to have you still here, Newleaf! You rock x

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    1. 150 days is awesome, Blue Moon! It'll keep getting easier from here on. Hurrah! And hugs xx

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  17. I'm still here! I log on everyday and read my favourite blogs. Sometimes I don't have time to comment but I have to get my daily fix! Even when I fell off the wagon after my 102 days last year, whilst I didn't blog (I was too ashamed) I did keep lurking on all your blogs. They are a Godsend! Thanks so much SM. A x

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    1. I remember when you went quiet for a while, Angie. It was so great when you came back :-) xxx

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  18. I haven't given up!
    I'm sober now for 530 days!
    xo
    Wendy

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  19. More wise words and so appreciated by me and all your readers I'm sure.
    I am on day 45 have had a few wobbles - this weekend I was away staying with friends and had an exhausting but enjoyable Sunday running a stand at a vintage fair. I really felt like a drink afterwards (a reward for hard work) - but had a bath and an AF beer just got me over the wobble. My friends were drinking but I didn't. Feeling proud. My partner told me he was proud of me too. That meant a lot. Have told a few people that I am not drinking now - but I still am not able to say it's forever.
    As ever your blog is so important to me. I hope I am not one of the readers who 'goes quiet'. X

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    1. Well done, Dr C! Baths and beer (AF) can solve a lot of angst! Big hugs xxx

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  20. I just popped on to check in after not logging in for a while. I attempted to blog, but didn't follow through. I am though on day 29. Yay! My biggest craving was traveling this weekend with two small kids. When we got through security all I could think of was Chardonnay (with a capital C). Thanks for your post and your blog, it's given me lots of hope and encouragement.

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    1. I find travelling (with children) a huge trigger too, runningaway. Now I take an AF beer with me, so I have one to dink as soon as I arrive! xxx

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  22. I'm still here SM xx, and still loving your blog. A few people have gone AWOL, and I am hoping that they are sober and happy. But we'll be here, if they need us!

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    1. I'm still loving yours too, WB! You're family ;-) xx

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  23. Guilty as charged! I fell in a pot hole at the end of January (bloody wine witch and her moderation speech) and it turned into a chasm that I've been trying to climb out of ever since. I don't like posting when I'm wobbling as I worry about triggering others. So apologies that I have been quiet but it has been with best intentions. The kids are getting packed off to their grandparents with dad in the next 30 mins.. So self care will start here! Thank you for the timely post, I may be back at the beginning but I've learnt from it and having tasted freedom I want it back again!

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    1. We've all been there, SWMum. And you're not back at the beginning. Now you know where the potholes lie and you can avoid them next time ;-) Huge hugs xxx

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  24. Oops wish I'd read this a few days ago-back to day 1 again :-(
    It has taught me that I don't want this to EVER happen again!! It was not a good place. Thank you for all your time and all that you say resonates so strongly-just need to stop my stupid brain convincing myself that life is so boring without wine!!!

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    1. Don't beat yourself up lcs! We've all been there. The trick is to pick yourself up and keep going. Now you know what to watch out for. Huge hugs xxx

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  25. Morning SM.
    Your posts are a ray of sunshine in the gloomy mornings and I look forward to them so much! Your positivity and humour is exactly what I need to reinforce my commitment to a better life AF. Hope you can feel the love...💖

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  26. Thank you SM. You have helped me stay strong and make it, not break it. 109 days for me and I am feeling freedom and there is no way I'm giving that up for a night with red. As that wine witch will be waiting for me the very next day! You truly have helped me so much. You are an inspiration x.

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    1. Hello NBsyd! Thank you, and huge congrats on 109 days - you're through the worst now! Whoop whoop!

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  27. I just love you. When I found you blog I was like, finally! someone I totally relate to. (But you're wiser and way more in the future.) I've been wanting/trying to quit drinking for years. It ends up me hanging out sober in a different room than my hubby who drinks. Every night. I end up getting lonely and quit. Every time. My eyes are starting to open more. I keep telling myself one day at a time. Wish me luck- day 2.

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    1. Good luck Frances! I find having an engrossing (yet trashy and easy to read) book or magazine and some nice chocolates around sufficiently takes my mind off the urge. Also some meditation apps (headspace or some freebies on YouTube) can be good at taking your mind somewhere else. Maybe paint your nails? Can't hold a glass as easily if your nails are wet.

      You can totally do it, the days will just keep mounting up. If you do succumb don't dwell on it just get back on the proverbial bike again.

      Big, big hugs xxx

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    2. Can totally relate Frances. .. my hubby drinks every night and quite a lot but that's me reached 9 months and now it doesn't bother me at all!!!

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    3. Yes mine does as well and it doesn't bother me at all now. I also think it will rub off and may make him think about it more, I never say a word though!

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    4. I actually cried that a few of you replied to my post! Thank you so much and thank you SM for being here and bringing this together! Much love!! Day 3 :)

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    5. Good luck Frances! I hope you're okay, and on day 3 now! I know it's tricky when the OH drinks (mine does too), but in the long run it makes you stronger, as it's totally impossible to avoid booze in today's world, so getting used to it at home helps. It took me months to be able to eat an evening meal with Mr SM without wanting to murder him ;-) xxx

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    6. Thank you SM! So inspiring and uplifting 💕
      I just love your blog 😍

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  28. Dear SM,
    Your blog is so important to me that you have your own "folder" on my email account. Aside from two drinks on day nine( restaurant drinks that in my alcohol book, seemed like the equivalent of one drink) am now on day 21. The longest I have gone since my month of living in the rehab bubble, almost three years ago!

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    1. I'm so chuffed to have my own folder :-) Yay! Huge congrats on 21 days - you've got the key to the door now! xxx

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  29. I'm still reading every day. Your blog is a part of my daily ritual. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for still being here, Diana! Hugs xxx

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  30. Still here! I read you every day. At day 57 it's really getting a lot easier! I have hit 2 walls so far but your blog has helped to keep me strong. Thank you xxx

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    1. well done, Clare! The walls get lower and easier to climb as time goes on. Huge hugs xxx

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  31. Still here too and check your blog every day. It's really important for me to have a daily reality check and I still need to keep focused as without that I start to think 'I wasn't that bad - maybe I can just have the odd one'..... blah blah blah! Reading your blog daily reminds me to keep going xx

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    1. I still have those thoughts too, EH. But having you, and people like you, reading keeps me on the straight and narrow. Thank you! xxx

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