Monday, February 8, 2016

Who have I become...?

I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday and we were laughing about how I used to be very scornful and resistant about doing any inner (dare I say spiritual?) work on myself. "I'm not a naval gazer" was my oft-repeated line back in the day when I was a boozy boozer completely cut off from myself.

We were laughing because my how times have changed!

I'd just been telling her how I'd signed up to do a month-long meditation challenge, and was back listening to Tara Brach again and all sorts of other stuff (I chart exactly what inner - dare I say spiritual? - work I am doing in my Mrs D Is Going Within blog.)

And the reason I'm doing all of this stuff is because IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Life has been a bit gritty for me lately for one reason and another (and another and another) - I've been doing it tough. And a big part of the problem was that while dealing with some gritty things I'd forgotten about the big picture. I'd forgotten to put myself in perspective. I'd forgotten to wonder at the miracle that is my life. I'd slipped from trying to live mindfully. I'd stopped regularly reminding myself to ground myself in the moment throughout the day. I'd forgotten that I am not my thoughts and that my thoughts are not facts. I had forgotten that I am more than the sum of events that occur for me or the interactions I have with people.

When I do remember to pull back from this narrow sense of self I am reminded that my existence is a miracle and this world is a miracle and this life is fleeting and that love and goodness and kindness are real and true and things that exist for me every day.

I am not my dirty kitchen floors and I am not my tears and I am not my concerns for the future and I am not my regrets about the past and I am not my unmet deadline and I am not my insecurities and I am not my sadness and I am not my extra 4kg of body weight that I would love to lose.

Those things are real.. but they do not make me who I am.

I am a pair of lungs that breaths in, and out, and in, and out, and in, and out, and in. I am a person with flaws and beauties and struggles and triumphs. Right now I am a person sitting sideways on a kitchen chair with my legs crossed, my left forearm resting on the table and my fingers flying over a keyboard. I am a pair of lungs breathing in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out.

And when I remember to take this mental 'step back' and look at the big picture and ground myself and feel my breath and put myself in perspective (one of a million billion miraculous organism existing on this planet), I wonder at the world, I relax about my place in it, and I feel calm.

This post title asks 'who have I become?' I can answer this now. I am a naval gazer extraordinaire!!!!!!!!! And I love it.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sometimes I wish....

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country which wasn't so booze soaked.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country where daily habitual drinking wasn't the norm.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country where every social event wasn't liquored up. Where people didn't get steadily more slurry and blurry as the night goes on.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country full of people who enjoyed having a clear head ... not people who embraced imbibing alcohol all the time and all that comes with that.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country where the wine and beer wasn't sold in my supermarket right next to the bread and cheese. This is not an issue of being tempted... it's the message that is being sent by having that liquid drug treated as an ordinary commodity. It's the message that selling alcohol with groceries sends to all the many people who struggle to control it.

The message I hear every time I walk past the booze section is 'don't know what your problem is...we're all fine with this stuff'.

The problem is we're NOT all fine with it. There are HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of people in this country who are not fine with alcohol ... people who are locked in a fierce internal struggle with themselves about trying to control and moderate it. I know this because I talk to them every day at Living Sober.

In fact if I could do one thing I'd take the bloody beer and wine out of the supermarkets and have it sold only in specialised shops. It would be nice for me if that happened...but it would be really, really, really nice for the people who are still trying to fix their relationship with it.

Anyway back to what I wish.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a country where I wasn't the odd one out for not drinking. I wish I lived in a country where not drinking was the norm and people who imbibed booze regularly were the odd ones out.

Most of the time I'm fine with being the odd one out because I love being sober and I so appreciate my clear head and I love feeling so much more connected with my fellow human beings, and I am so so so happy and proud of myself for turning my life around, and I adore feeling like a fully realised and properly grounded human being, and I am delighted with my incredibly enriched internal life.

But sometimes I wish I lived in a country that was full of people who appreciated the same things.

Just sometimes.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Anger...

I'm getting much better at handling my anger outbursts. I'm not saying I don't ever have them - they do come - but much more often now I am able to stay calm and somewhat 'zen' when I'm being pushed, pushed, pushed by my grumpy offspring.

It's the parenting that really pushes my anger button. I never seem to get angry at random things like other motorists or broken things or annoying people on the radio ... but parenting ... it can push me into previously uncharted emotional waters!

Of course as a mum I also experience ridiculous amounts of love and devotion and protection and pride and all of that. But anger.. yeah .. that's the quite intense one.

When I first got sober I had some spectacular outbursts.. but slowly I learnt that screaming at the kids didn't actually achieve much other than make them scream back at me even louder. And slowly I learned that keeping myself low and level worked much better at defusing their outbursts. I find now (when I am managing to control myself) I go into this weird 'zen' mode when I'm almost on a go-slow not responding to their outbursts. It's very disempowering for them and things settle down much more quickly.

And when I decide the fight is over I move very quickly act all easy-breezy and loving again to try to make it easier for them to come out of their bad mood. Because I figure I'm the adult so I have to show emotional management because goodness knows at ages 11, 9 & 6 their emotional management skills are very underdeveloped.

THANK GOODNESS I GOT SOBER!!!!!!!!!

Honestly - with so many tough parenting years to come (the teenage years - 'shudder') the more clever I am at controlling myself in the midst of their turmoil the better.

Anyway.. we are nearing the end of our long, long summer holidays. I've got an extra kid here today so have been surrounded by 4 young boys all day and it's hot, they're tired, they're sick of each other (my sons especially), and the bickering has been intense. But I've managed to (so far) stop myself from completely losing my rag.

I've been placating, negotiating, feeding, watering, entertaining, exercising, monitoring and generally parenting young lads without too much angst. And now it's 5pm and because I don't drown myself in wine every evening (like I used to) I am going to make myself a nice cold soda water instead. With ice and a slice. Because I'm worth it.

And here's hoping the zen approach stays with me til bedtime...

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, January 18, 2016

A post about camping, and sugar....

Just back from a week camping - 7 nights on an airbed! Not for the faint hearted. But actually it was lovely and relaxing. The kids had complete breaks from their screens and rode their bikes around the campsite making friends. Mr D played cricket with them and read books and played his guitar and swam and went running, and I read books, swam in the sea, pottered around our campsite (because pottering around my 'home' is what I love to do best, I am very much a housewife!) and generally we all had a nice break away from our house. We played lots of board games and card games too.

I didn't have a complete break from the screen because I never take a break from running Living Sober. I had my iPad and checked in a couple of times a day - keeping an eye on the Members Feed (our scrolling real-time communication space) and answering emails from people who were having trouble registering. The site is still very busy and humming along nicely - such a warm, kind and supportive community.

I didn't miss drinking while we were camping. Mr D had the odd beer but not much. We had some friends join us for a few nights and they're hardly boozers either. Most nights we all went to bed (kids included) when the sun went down which was around 9.30-10pm. I wondered whether if I was still boozing I'd be more likely to sit up having 'adult' time drinking wine and chatting? Quite possibly. But I'm not sad I don't do that any more. I am very content with my sober life.

Lovely waking up in the morning with the birds chirping, the sound of the sea nearby and the odd person wandering around the campsite. I'd light our portable stove, boil the jug and make myself a mug of green tea - sit in a deckchair and contemplate the surroundings.

I'll admit I did have some guilt over my chocolate consumption while away - which came hot on the heels of my piggy Christmas period at home - so now I am on a juice fast.

Who am I kidding I'm not on a juice fast. I could never do a juice fast. I tried the 5:2 diet once and it didn't work for me AT ALL (the days I fasted were hell and the other days I just pigged out even more than usual).

Sometimes I feel like a complete failure as a person because I can't get on top of my food (particularly sugar) and wouldn't it be good if I could be as good an advocate for a sugar-free lifestyle as I am for a booze-free lifestyle? But fuck me I just can't get on top of it for any considerable length of time. I'm all or nothing. Off the sugar completely for a while or just on it like a madwoman.

At least I can draw some comfort in knowing I'm not alone in this - seems to me like loads of people also battle with sugar. I read an article with Marian Keyes in a women's mag while camping and it could have been written by me - I could SO relate. Here's a snippet "I’m an all-or-nothing person. There’s no such thing as ‘just the one’; I’m a binger, so sugar and I can never ‘just be friends’."

I hear you Marian, I hear you.

Anyhoo, I've no choice but to forge ahead reminding myself constantly how brave and amazing I am for not drinking alcohol ever, I'll try to make myself lots of lovely green juices, I'll dig deep to resist sugar cravings knowing that after 3 days they are greatly reduced (and will have to remember not to dip my toe in again!), and life will go on. Yes it will and it's ok really.

Really, it's ok.

Love, Mrs D xxx


Friday, January 8, 2016

"Are you REALLY happy being sober?"

Wow the stats on this blog have gone nuts! I'm getting double the number of hits that I used to every day (hundreds and hundreds more). Must be the time of year. Living Sober is also incredibly busy - our membership is growing rapidly! This will also partly be due to the fact that the NZ Drug Foundation are running ads for the site on Facebook.

I'm also getting loads more emails than usual .. from people who are reaching out for the first time wanting help with registering at Living Sober, or just saying kind things to me, or asking for help and guidance.

I received one email which simply asked "Is it true that you are happy being sober and it isn't a lifelong struggle? I can't even imagine my life without alcohol"

Here is what I sent in reply....

Hi, yes it is true that I am happy not drinking and don't feel worried/miserable that I won't touch alcohol ever again. And I KNOW that must sound unreal to you because I can so remember not believing that could be possible myself when I was stuck in the booze trap. 

It is hard bloody work breaking free from booze but you must know that it CAN BE DONE (sorry for the liberal use of caps!). Lots and lots and lots of people stop and get to the place where I am now - happy and free. You just have to get through these early stages. 

Form a very clear picture of the person you don't want to be (sloppy and boozy and numb) and keep that image locked in mind because it will be a great motivator. 

Then form a mental image of the person you do want to be - happy and healthy and calm and just living an ordinary life! And keep that one really firmly in mind and BELIEVE that you can be that person because you can. Honestly. 

These mental images really helped me and I still have the image of boozy me in mind and will often use it when I have a little sad thought about not drinking. There is no romantic image of booze for me. I cannot control it and I become a sloppy numb disconnected person if I touch it .. so hence I don't drink. 

Good luck!! You can do this.

==========


I don't need mental images of boozy me/sober me any more...I have the real thing! Out of the blue today we found an old phone card of Mr D's that held photos from before I got sober. Check out bloated me......!


And here's me over four years later, raising a glass of soda water this past New Year's Eve - sober, happy and healthy!


If these images aren't going to help keep me motivated to stay alcohol-free then I don't know what is!

Love, Mrs D xxx