Thursday, November 20, 2014

Repeating myself...

Because I have come out from behind the lovely protective cloak of anonymity and most people around me know that I blog I'm far less inclined now to give details of what is going on in my life.

I'm not complaining, I chose to release a memoir about my drinking problem and then cry on prime time TV talking about it .. so I've no-one to blame but myself!

I continue to share regularly here on this blog and at Living Sober because I want to help others get free from the evil clutches of booze.. but I also want to maintain some privacy about my life.

So I can't (won't) share the details of a few big things that are going on for me… some things that have been occurring for me … some mistakes that I've made and some big shit that is going down.

But let me just say this.

Shit goes down.

It's hard sometimes. It hurts. It's uncomfortable. It's not nice. I'd rather not make mistakes, or have to feel emotional pain.

Or would I? Would I really rather sail through life with no trials and tribulations? Can anyone do that?

How can I love wholeheartedly and be open not feel pain sometimes? People get sick and die. People can be hurtful. That happens.

How can I be brave and open and avoid making mistakes sometimes? Without mistakes I wouldn't learn.

I want to stay open. I don't want to close up. I don't want to go into 'fright and flight' mode (to quote Tara Brach) and live in that scared miserable place. I want to be open and alive to all that comes. Even the hard stuff.

And that is why I choose to be sober, and to cry and to feel all the time and to never escape.

I didn't know that was what I was choosing when I decided to remove alcohol from my life 1170 days ago. But boy am I happy that this was the end result of my big decision.

I love being sober. Have I mentioned that before?

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, November 10, 2014

A post about exercise...

I just did a 44 minute walk around my neighborhood and I know that might not sound like a big deal but trust me, it is a big deal because it is the first official 'exercise' (of a structured nature i.e. I am walking for no other purpose than to get exercise) I have done in at least six months.

Have definitely let the exercise hole in my life get bigger and bigger and … yeah… haven't been doing any basically.

So today was a BIG day .. I got the boys off to school and then I parked my car by the library and got my iPhone out and opened up the new 'Map My Walk' app I downloaded on the weekend, and set it to start and then I put my iPhone in a little bag I was wearing over my shoulder and put my headphones on (connected to the phone of course) and hit play on my cheesy pop music playlist and then I WENT WALKING!!!!!

Honestly, you would have thought I'd run a marathon the elation I felt when I got back to my car 44 minutes later. It was AWESOME!!!!! I got super-hot halfway through because I was wearing a dress (!) with thick black tights underneath (!!) and it's coming into summer here and today is a scorcher.. so I had to stop at a bus-stop halfway and quickly take my tights off and tuck them in my little bag so that I wouldn't be so hot.

I think next time I'll dress a little more appropriately.

But I'd forgotten how true it is that exercise makes you feel soooo much better!!! More 'in your body' and alive and fresh and functional (as opposed to dysfunctional, my biggest hate as it reminds me of when I was boozing and feeling so dreadfully dysfunctional). I have known for a good few weeks now that I needed to get back on the exercise horse, I cancelled my gym membership before my book came out and haven't been doing anything since then other than the general running-around-the-neighbourhood that I do.

I have also started recording a show on the Living Channel called 'Yoga TV' every morning and have actually got on the floor in my living room and followed along with the 25-minute class a few times. Am going to try and do that regularly as well as keep up with the walks.

And I've decided I'm going to stop weighing myself. I'm eating well, very little sugar & wheat, and am sick of the scales dictating how I feel every day. So they can piss off.

That is all for now.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Totes Amazeballs!!!!!!

I've got that familiar feeling of life ebbing and flowing and I'm really appreciating experiencing all of it all the time raw … living sober is soooooo utterly fantastic.

Shit happens, I get through it, an easy patch happens, I slide through it, some more shit happens, I get through it, sleep is bad, I deal with it, sleep gets good again, I love it, shit happens, I get through it, things go smoothly for a while, I love it….. this is sober life.

And I always know what's going on. I don't get confused. I'm alert to things because my brain is never blurred. It's still gob-smacking to me the impact my habitual boozing had on my overall experience of life. Because I was high-functioning you wouldn't necessarily think the regular brain-bending was impacting me so greatly. But it was!

Taking the booze away has had a profound impact on my overall experience of life.

It's so freaking amazing. It's TOTES AMAZEBALLS!!!!!!!!!! A newspaper in NZ had that saying on their 'Going Down' list on the weekend.. meaning it's not cool at all and shouldn't be used. Dumb judgmental too-cool-for-school newspaper journalists being snippy about sayings that aren't hurting anyone. Totes Amazeballs!!!!! I'm not too cool for school! If I want to say 'Totes Amazeballs' instead of 'Totally Amazing' then I will!!!!! In caps no less with far too many exclamation marks!!

SOBRIETY IS TOTES AMAZEBALLS!!!!!!!!

The biggest thing is the calming down. When I was boozing I was always reaching, reacting or moving somehow to do something to cope (usually in the direction of a wine or 3..). It was kind of frantic head-whipping way of living.

Quick I feel pain - do something!! (something that takes me away from the feeling i.e. drink)

Quick I feel sad - do something!!  (something that takes me away from the feeling i.e. drink)

Quick I feel angry - do something!!  (something that takes me away from the feeling i.e. drink)

And it worked the other way too...

Quick I feel happy - do something! (something that 'enhances' the feeling i.e. drink)

Quick I feel celebratory - do something! (something that 'enhances' the feeling i.e. drink)

Quick I feel proud - do something! (something that 'enhances' the feeling i.e. drink)

Alcohol doesn't 'take away' or 'enhance'. It numbs.

Now I don't drink I'm never numb to these feelings. I fully experience them. With the tough ones I get a sort of weary (calm) resignation that there is nothing that can be done, so I trudge through the pain/sadness/anger knowing that it will pass by. And it always does. And with the good ones - happiness/celebration/pride - I feel them so much more! My happiness is pure, my pride is real, my celebrations are amazing, it's cool!

Drinking away the bad also meant drinking away the good. And you can't do that. You can't selectively numb emotion.

Brene Brown is big on this.. she says "To fully experience positive emotions, we have to be open to our negative emotions. We have to resist the urge to numb ourselves and cultivate the ability to be vulnerable without feeling compelled to protect ourselves. We have to develop a sense of comfort with our discomfort."

I think that's what getting sober has done for me. It's led me to develop a sense of comfort with my discomfort.

Hallelujah. I'm telling you… it's totes amazeballs, and I am deeply profoundly grateful to be living this way now.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My friend Sue...

I had lunch with my lovely friend Sue yesterday (she who was on the Sunday programme with me, and writes guest posts and contributes 'Drink of the Week' ideas for Living Sober) .. it was her second soberversary - yay! - and we had a fantastic nearly two hours together chatting away. I had the waitress take a photo of us at the end just because I feel so fortunate to have her in my life.


I was looking at this photo last night and got worried that I was squashing Sue rather too tightly (look at my hands clasped together against her arm!) but then I thought no loving hug can be too tight can it?

Sue has said to me before, and I think that she's right, if we'd met when we were both still drinking we probably wouldn't have hit it off quite like we have now that we're both sober. I'm sort-of social and verbal and she's quite reserved and gentle.. and when we were drinking we became more extreme versions of ourselves and therefore further apart from each other. Funnily enough getting sober has moved our personalities closer together. I am definitely more gentle and reflective now than I ever was when boozing, and she has just blossomed in herself without wine in the way. I hope she doesn't mind me summarizing her this way…! Of course we are both very complicated creatures and this paragraph can't do justice to our personalities or what has transpired for each of us since we got sober but hopefully you get the gist.

The gist = Sue rocks.

At lunch we talked about how crazy it feels to have had our eyes opened to alcohol now that we've had to work hard to remove it and re-train our brains to accept life without it. It seems incredible to us now looking around at how deeply so many people are hard-wired to believe all of the fallacies that booze offers.

That it's the best way to relax (it's not, relaxing is about quietening your brain and dropping your shoulders and feeling calm and happy and not stressed or wound up or busy).

That it's the best way to enjoy a party (it's not, enjoying a party is when you feel genuinely happy with the company, your outfit, your mood, the music, the environment, the decorations, the chats & jokes etc).

That it's the best way to bond with a friend (it's not, bonding with friends is when you are listening and sharing and giving and connecting and loving and caring).

That it's the best way to be a good host (it's not, being a good host is about making your guests feel welcome and warm and comfortable and happy to be in your space, chatting to and sharing time, food & music etc with you).

That it's the best way to deal with stress (it's not, the best way to deal with stress is by thinking clearly through what is making you stressed, taking steps to reduce or manage that stress in a proper, productive, tangible, real ways).

Why does a brain-bending liquid get all the power? Because we give it the power. We're hard-wired to believe it has the power. Marketing and advertising tells us it has the power.

Well guess what? It doesn't. Booze doesn't have the power to do any of what it promises or offers. We have the power. We hold the power in all of us.

That's what me and Sue reckon anyway.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Home again home again jiggity-jig...

Mini-tour went well!!!! I loved it actually. I was knackered at the end of it but not lie-me-down-for-a-month knackered.. just quietly worn out from 4 days of chatting and interacting with lovely people.

Worn out but happy, and very full of warmth and satisfaction after having met a bunch of brave sober people working hard to turn their lives around… and also a bunch of hard-working caring people trying hard to improve our drinking culture (all the organizers.. public health workers and the like….)

The turnout was good.. one event in particular was quite a big crowd (70ish).. the other three were smaller but that made them intimate and chatty and warm which I enjoyed. I think maybe the organizers were disappointed in the turnout (not disappointed in me, just sad that more people didn't come to hear me talk) but I wasn't surprised to be honest. A big chunk of my presentation is about how great online recovery is because of it's safe/private nature (you can tap into it from home from behind the safety of your computer, you can hide your real identity and no-one judges you for it and you can still make real, strong, tangible connections.. etc etc) so really coming out of your home and into a community hall to hear someone speak flies in the face of all of that. It's scary, so I wasn't surprised.

And I was really proud of myself that I ate well throughout the four days and drank lots of water and slept pretty good and kept myself 'in the moment', and remembered to appreciate the beautiful scenery that Central Otago has to offer.

I don't know what it is about me but I don't get nervous before I talk. I just stand there listening to the person introducing me and think calmly about what I'm about to say. I'd practiced my presentation a bunch of times beforehand - it was an hour long with about 20 slides in a powerpoint presentation;  photos of me at 15 when I started drinking, photos of me drunk later on, photos of me at 39 the high-functioning boozer "classic example of the outsides not matching the insides", a few one-word slides when I talk about specific techniques I used when re-training my brain out of a lifetime of boozing, screen shots from my blog and Living Sober, photos of me crying on the TV, my book cover etc etc….. I just tell the story.

I actually cried on two of the evenings when reliving my last drinking days. I did not expect that to happen. It was intense, but ok. It's real. I can't hide the depth of feeling that comes with getting sober.

And always I'd imagine my one person that I do all of this for. The imaginary figure that I have created in my mind, a woman in shadow looking scared and miserable, trapped in a boozy hell, whispering to me "don't stop, don't stop".. it's her I'm doing all of this for and I don't care what anyone else thinks of me.

I got an email yesterday from someone that came to my last talk. It read "Thank you so much for being so open and honest with your sobriety. Today is my first day of not drinking in over 15 years. Wish me luck."

That makes the whole trip worthwhile in my book.

Love, Mrs D xxx