Saturday, 20 October 2018

Understanding the Wine Witch


One of the keys to beating addiction is understanding the wine witch.

If you've ever been addicted to anything, you'll know instinctively what I mean. If you've never had an issue with moderation (lucky you), then this post may help you to get inside the head of those who do.

I really can't remember when I first met the wine witch. I think it must have been sometime around my late twenties. I know that when I was at University I would drink sometimes, and not drink at other times, and not think about it at all in-between. It just wasn't on my mind.

But, at some point, a little voice started to take up residence in my head. At first, it was barely noticeable, it felt just like another regular thought. It would say things like ooh, she looks fun, looks like she enjoys a drink or two. You should make friends with her! or Hey, it's still early! Why not have one for the road?

So far, so normal.

The problem with addiction is that it's progressive. Those thoughts which used to float by once in a while start to appear more often. You begin to be familiar with better buy an extra bottle, just in case you run out and what about a wine box? So much more cost efficient!

By the time I quit drinking, the wine witch was a permanent resident in my head, fretting about when I was going to drink next, how much I was going to drink, where I was going to buy the drink from, how many bottles were in the recycling bin, and so on.

Sharing your head with all of that on a daily basis is exhausting, as well as totally distracting. It's difficult to achieve anything else in your life when you're dealing with all the constant chatter.

So I quit.

The problem was, that when you start to fight your addiction, the internal monologue initially gets WORSE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? YOU FEEL AWFUL! YOU NEED MORE WINE! YOU ARE BORING WITHOUT IT! LIFE IS BORING WITHOUT IT!

You start to feel like you're going a little crazy. You know logically, with your conscious mind, that the booze has to go, that it's no good for you, but your sub-conscious mind is still addicted - it hasn't caught up. You're effectively waging an ongoing battle in your own head.

This is where the wine witch comes in.

You need to give that voice a name, a personality, so that you realise it's NOT YOU. It's your addiction. And once you separate that voice from yourself, you can understand it, and you can beat it. You can't keep fighting yourself for very long, but you can fight an evil enemy.

Addicts choose different names and personifications for their addict brains. I love the wine witch, because wine was my thing. Alan Carr talks about a snake which has taken residence in your belly. George Michael sang about The Monkey.

Why can't you do it?
Why can't you set your monkey free?
Always giving in to it.
Do you love the monkey, or do you love me?

As soon as I named and pictured my enemy, I knew I could kill her. I understood that she would try every trick in the book to try to persuade me to drink, because that was how she gained her strength. I knew that the only way to destroy her was to deprive her of alcohol.

I would imagine blasting the witch with a machine gun. I'd fry her with my dragons (thank you, Game of Thrones). I'd clobber her around the head with my stiletto heels. I was The Bride in Kill Bill, wreaking furious vengeance whenever that witch stuck her head over the parapet and started bleating about just one won't do any harm...

The longer you go without a drink/drug, the weaker the wine witch or monkey becomes, their voice less strident, less insistent. But just one drink brings them back to life with a vengeance.

It takes a while to kill the witch. For me, it was about 100 days until she started quieting down, and six months before she really shut up.

Then, one day, I realised that I hadn't heard from her at all for some time. I was free. I had tapped my red shoes together and gone back to Kansas with Toto.

And that silence, that freedom, is the most magical feeling in the world.

To find out more about the ups and downs of the first year sober, read The Sober Diaries here (UK) and here (USA) in hardback, Kindle or audio.

I also post daily information and inspiration on the SoberMummy Facebook Page ('like' page to stay updated) and you can follow me on Instagram, @clare_pooley and Twitter, @cpooleywriter.

Love to you all,

SM x

38 comments:

  1. I need to kill my witch before she kills me!

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  2. Hi Clare,

    I love these posts! Reading through from the start after reading your book really gave me impetus and support to quit. Today I am on Day 42 or Week 6 AF and you can take most of the credit for that! Facebook’s ok, but this is the real eloquent you. Please don’t give up on your blog!! I also miss the wisdom of all the wonderful tribe you have collected here!

    Also thank you for the World Without Wine workshop a couple of weeks ago. Seeing you when I walked in (although you didn’t know me) helped so much and it was such a good day and a great crowd of people. You, Janet and Barbara were awesome! I meant to write to thank you and have failed to do that, so please take this as my heartfelt thanks! And thanks for signing my (your!) book, it is probably the only time I’all ever be called a super hero!

    I am struggling at the moment, just generally feeling bleurrgh! Lack of energy, aching joints, dodgy guts, a bit fluey. So I had come here to see what was going on with you at about week six. Maybe PAWS? The witch isn’t too bad, I think she maybe crying a bit! I’m going on holiday next week so I expect she will be back with a vengeance!

    Onwards and upwards! And thank you again.

    Lucy (of myxi rabbit note!)

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  3. Thanks for the great post as ever SM and so very true. I had been AF for some time and hit the pink cloud and magical field of bunnies.... then suddenly Paws snuck up and bit me in the bum and the wine witch reared her ugly head from nowhere! All the cravings came back with a vengeance and I felt so miserable, I couldn't understand it. Perhaps you could do another blog on PAWS sometime to remind people about it. Thanks to you I am now back on track and life couldn't be better.

    Good luck Laura and Lucy, you will get there. And thanks for the fab posts SM, they are definitely the best blogs around.

    Big hugs,
    Meggie xxx

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  4. I'm on day 14. Like you, I was a secret boozing mom of 3 boys. Highly functioning during the day, total mess at night. I had thoughts of quitting for 2 years or so before I had tests that revealed high liver enzymes, stomach cramps, hypoglycemia. I've always been so healthy. So I quit temporarily to let my body heal. Well, turns out temporary meant 2 weeks and I was back to binging on my "cheat" nights. The final day, a Saturday, I had 4 heavy beers while watching the game and a nightcap I told myself (this was my idea of moderating)...which the next day I realized was actually 4 bourbons with lemon. I started with 1 bourbon and kept returning to the cabinet to "refresh." I also realized every time I'd "refresh" I told my husband I was going to reheat the drink. The next morning I felt awful, embarrassed and ashamed. I really couldn't moderate. I couldn't just have the one nightcap. But that wasn't enough to stop me. That Sunday afternoon the wine witch told me to stop and get a bottle of wine, just a bottle - no biggie. But I actually didn't listen that time. Said no, I need to dry out for a bit. Monday night/Tuesday early morn I went to the hospital with chest pains, elevated heart rate, anxiety and sweating. I thought I was dying. Tests were run and I was released. I realized then I was having alcohol withdrawals. I'll be 40 next month, successful marriage, career, wonderful kids, beautiful home. I volunteer, run events at church, take care of everyone around me. And deep down inside I realized I have a major secret problem. I read your book that week and it transformed my life. I promised myself I'd never feel that way again. But it's hard, it's really really hard. I feel so angry and sad and that's not me!!! I'm almost to the 2 weeks mark and I have days I feel great and then bam the next day I feel like I can't do this. I suppose that's why I quit in the first place. I had lost control and I had lost me. Thank you from the bottom of my Texan heart for writing your book and blog. It's the only way I seek refuge at the moment from my own head and it really helps to not feel alone and alien in this world. Plus the husband I'm sure appreciates the break from "can we talk."

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    1. Hang on in there!! Just think a year ago you probably could not contemplate 14 whole days without a drink .... Before you know it you will have clocked up a month and you will be feeling better. I think one of the magical things about Clare's blog (one of the many) is that you can look back and see some of the ups and downs along the way. The ups win!!!
      Interesting post this one on the wine witch ... She was such a heavy exhausting load to have on my shoulder .... So glad to be free :-))
      Happy days :-)

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    2. Thank you so much Jacs60!

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  5. I'm 6 weeks alcohol free all thanks to reading the sober diaries. I haven't never felt so well or calm in many years. Thank you for the inspiration.

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  6. Day 21 and feeling clearer and calmer. I am realizing that the parts of my life that felt like they were not working anymore weren't working because I was seeing my life through the bottom of a wine bottle and what a distorted view that was. I had no idea that the very thing I was using to cope/numb what I thought was wrong in my life was actually the cause of much of the anxiety, emptiness etc I was experiencing. The hold it took was so gradual that I didn't know it had the hold on me that it had. I am so thankful to have read the book and found this blog. Sending love and positive thoughts to you all of you.

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  7. Well done Anne! That's great. Love and thoughts back to you.

    Rob

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  8. Hi Clare, thanks again for another super great post! It's good to know the WW will eventually shut the he** up. I'm 9 months in and she still pops into my head several times per week. The hubs and I just got back from a fabulous cruise but OMG every night around dinnertime the WW came knocking on my stateroom door ugh! Drinking was everywhere! In hindsight going on a cruise is definitely not compatible in early sobriety. Thankfully I stayed the course and did not cave in despite the 15+ bars on the ship. Thank you again for your words of wisdom! See you on FB. :) x

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  9. Oh Meggie it’s so lovely to see your name it’s Looby Lou still struggling but on here reading , I need to kill the wine witch before she kills me, I’m still why oh why i need to concentrate that it’s an addiction anyhow ������ good luck all and I’ll continue reading and start day one today ❤️

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    1. Hi Looby Lou. Just promise yourself you will NOT drink today and don't no matter what! Repeat again tomorrow. It is amazing how quickly the days/weeks add up. Good luck to you!

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    2. Hey LL,it's great to hear from you. Glad you are still reading Clare's posts and keep reading Jason Vale etc. Remember how happy you were when you kicked the WW into touch earlier this year, I remember you getting to about day 40 and you seemed so happy with life, you KNOW you can do this. You know it's a tough journey, especially at the start but remember just take one day at a time. Don't look too far ahead as it can get depressing in the early days, Lol! I'm at about 7 months and still the wine witch pops up occasionally but it's so much easier to fight her off now and life is good. I have a good stock of AF beer in and binge drink that if I get a craving.
      Good luck everyone xxx

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  10. Yes, the voice quiet down. I didn’t believe it would be true, but it was.

    Hugs and love to you Clare,

    Anne

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  11. Thanks Meggie n Joni just trying to relax tonight a bit itsy but hanging in and quite tired 💤 thanks all good luck 😉

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  12. I have just purchased your book and my god your story is identical to mine. I am scared about giving up alcohol but i know sooner then later i will give up on life and i dont want that so how do you start?? I have my birthday at the weekend..how am i to do it?

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    1. One day at a time ... One step at a time. You have made the first step successfully .. Clare's book and joining this blog. You can do it.
      We are all different so what works for one does not always fit another ... Maybe make your birthday the first day free from alcohol .. Just imagine how you will feel the morning after .. Hangover free, memory in tact .... Proud of yourself !!!
      We will all be cheering you on .. There is loads of support and ideas in back dates of Clare's blog together with what to expect and how to deal. Wishing you the very best.

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  13. Fab advice from Jacs, definitely just take one day at a time, baby steps, as I found the thought of 'forever' terrifying and depressing at first but not now. My life is so much better AF, only wish I'd quit sooner! And how amazing if you could start on your birthday, you will remember this forever. And wake up the next day hangover free, what could be better?!! Definitely read as much as you can, there are some great books and blogs out there.
    Good luck everyone, we are here for you. And good luck Looby Lou, hope you are doing ok hun xxx

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  14. Hi all I’m hanging on in Friday night NZ was unsettled tonight but mage it though tired like the last time I made it to 40 days night x

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  15. How are you doing LL? Hope everyone else is doing ok too xxx

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  16. Day 1 for me today. Prepare to be annihilated WW!

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  17. Hello everyone. I've not been on the blog for a while and it's great to read your posts again Clare. As always they are spot on. I'm now 10 months sober/AF and a journey of discovery it has been is an understatement. I've had the highs and lows that you would expect, have found out who I really am and who my real friends are. The early stages were frightening for me - in fact I was terrifies. Despite this, I always kept sight of where I wanted to be. I knew that I couldn't carry on drinking the way I was and that I'd run out of time. It had to be now. My pink cloud moment hit around 5 months in and they have been frequent since. I had a blip around 9 months when for about 2 weeks the wine witch was back - a constant voice in my head. I didn't even want one or two drinks. I just wanted to get drunk. Just once more. I didn't act on these feelings but the pressure was there - just like it was in the early days. Then suddenly she went - just as quickly has she'd arrived. People are really starting to notice the difference now - I get so many comments on how well I look. Wishing everyone all the luck in the world- a huge thanks to everyone for their support on this blog over the months - massive hugs to Clare and my super pal Meggie. Jacqueline xxx

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  18. Day 6 again - anxious but keen to make it this time. Would like more regular blogs SM to keep motivation going? Please please please? Xxx

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    1. Well done Frin ... Keep going .. Cheers from all of us :-)
      I am 2 years now and still refer back to previous blogs and read through the comments which do help keep me strong ... It does get easier .. Hang on in there towards those pink bunnies x

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  19. I'm planning to start tomorrow (I know!) because the wine witch is destroying my health, my job and my sanity, or is my weakness?

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  20. Please, have said goodbye now but need support

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  21. Thanks so much Jacs60 ☺. I will read the previous blogs and comments and keep going. It is good to know I am not alone! Xxx

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  22. Day 9 today (how did that happen!) and that has included a meal out with friends. The other woman in the group also decided to drive so we drank our tonic and fizzy water together. WW has been around but not too much. I expect her to start piling the pressure on soon but so far so good. I've been reading the earlier blogs and other Sober lit which has really helped. Keep going fellow soberfans!

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  23. How did that happen indeed blackpoolbelle! Well done. Day 12 for me has been a surprise as it included a meal out as well with fizzy water and slice of lemon which was lovely. Let's all keep at it!

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  24. Evening all, day 2 for me, first Friday without wine in such a long time first time of 2 days no wine in such a long time. Feel horrible. But positive. The comments ha e really helped me through wine o clock.
    SS

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  25. Hi guys I’m really struggling with the finding my people part of giving up alcohol. Is there such a thing as coaches online? Or forums? Maybe I’m searching wrong

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  26. Good days and bad days. ..But after4 months, I know that the bad days will pass and life is so much better,it belongs to me again. I feel excited again.I am looking forward to things for all the right reasons and it feels amazing. I thank the stars that I have found the strength to do this for me, and for my family.

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  27. The thought of naming and killing the wine witch is brilliant. I have just found and am binge watching The Walking Dead. I imagine I'm Michone, using my sword to cut off the head of the evil, soul-sucking creature. Thank You!!

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