My steam cleaner has arrived. It is wonderful . No blogging from me yesterday as I was too busy blasting the dirt of ages from the grout , and steaming my ancient tiles to new brightness. 

It felt wonderful and satisfying on several levels. Firstly the purely practical – it was quick and effective. Contrary to the impression I may have given here , I am not some clean freak. I don’t like housework – regarding it as at best a necessary evil. It so often seems pointless. Expending a lot of time and energy making something clean when in this house it will be dirty again in 24 hours.  But … To have a machine which tackles grime in a few moments , which I have previously only been able to shift with a toothbrush and a lot of scrubbing (and have therefore not often bothered) is seriously great! 

Secondly, it felt very emotionally satisfying making the floor “like new” again. That probably sounds a bit bonkers, it is a bit bonkers , but that’s how it felt – deeply good, on an emotional level. I wonder if there is something about renewal and rebirth of my dirty kitchen floor that equates with my current journey from slightly grubby stained life that I was ashamed off, to the hope of a bright clean life I can feel proud off. 

That’s probably nonsense, perhaps an analogy too far- but nevertheless i enjoyed cleaning my kitchen floor with my new shiny expensive steam cleaner, and I felt good ; engaged And happy while I was doing it!

And this morning I have overslept- one morning in a whole 9 days off – and therefore missed what I intended to do. And the whole bloody cycle of blame and self criticism and anxiety that I won’t get everything done starts all over again .. 



It’s 4 am in the morning , and I am NOT asleep. This is completely bonkers and very annoying . Periodically I suffer from insomnia – but this has not happened since I got sober 110 days ago. I’m Pretty annoyed that I’m Lying here wide awake for NO reason . 

In an attempt to soothe myself to sleep I listened to a bubble hour podcast about community and the importance of ‘connection‘ in maintaining sobriety. The podcast failed to send me off to sleep, but it did get me thinking. 

Last night I realised how much I have valued the comments and support I have received on this blog. I mean really REALISED,how  important the input of other recovering people has been. Everyone’s comments , from those  earlier in recovery than me , those faltering and the members of the wonderfully long term, established  sober community, have something to offer me. And more than that, by their posts they cast light over parts of my life that were in shadow, and by allowing me to contribute to their lives they boost my fragile self esteem. 

We use the JoHari window in professional Development, to illustrate the ‘unknown unknown’ areas of learning need, ie those things you don’t know that you don’t know. Unsurprisingly these learning needs are the hardest to uncover and we often use feedback from others to help uncover these needs. 

I see a parallel in my life, my sobriety and my blog. I wrote about what I feel, what moves me and how my decision to stop drinking is impacting on me. That’s all ‘known’ to me. (the known known) There are lots of things that I am aware I don’t know – like how to manage my relationship with my mother (this is a known Unknown – I am aware I don’t know what to do about it) ; there are things that others know about me from my posts – that they can see are unhelpful but about which I was previously either not aware or only dimly so. Lastly there are the nuggets I pick up from others posts that strike a completely unexpected chord with me, that open up a thought process that I had never considered before. These are JoHari’s unknown unknowns and their discovery is a gift.

I get all of this from Interaction anonymously on line. This is my ‘community’ that supports my sobriety. The podcast I listened to talked about the pivotal Moment where one of the presenters discussed sobriety with a REAL LIFE PERSON. She described how this interaction literally changed her future and provided the stepping stone to a full and positive life of interaction with others.

I get that, I really do. But I just don’t feel ready to ‘share’ my sobriety. I have reflected on this and will Return to the theme of isolation in another post. I guess for now it’s enough to say I’m Not ready.

The theme of community and community support and the tension between the intensely personal nature of addiction and sobriety against the isolation caused by shame, and the positive impact of loving support is one I will be returning to. 

And now it’s 4.30 am, I have had one hours sleep so far and I need to get up in 2 hours… Time for some valerian and another attempt at sleep.



Thank you

When I started writing this blog, back in March this year, I was writing for myself. I’d made the decision that I HAD to stop drinking. Somehow, a truth that I had known for at least 19 years, had crystallised in to a decision… NOW. Nor tomorrow, next month or year, but now. 

I had tried sobriety seriously twice before – and not succeeded in maintaining it. I knew this time, I had to be successful. Following advice I had read on another sober site , I decided to write about my journey. Many of the posts I made between March and June are privately published as they are so raw. I had no intention of seeking an audience for my ramblings – and as such just read others blogs quietly.

Then I started leaving messages on a few sites and slowly a few people began to visit my site. I have been so overwhelmed by the wisdom, thoughtfulness, consideration and support I have been shown. I wanted to thank each and every person who has visited my site, shared, liked and commented. You have enriched my life, given me hope and inspiration ( as well as not a few reading suggestions) 

The unexpected seam of love and care I have unearthed means more to me than you can possibly know. I’m still early on in this process, only 109 days. But I now have faith and belief that I can and will succeed in embracing sobriety, and that my life and those of my loved ones will be richer and more authentic for this. 

From the bottom of my heart – thank you


The dog

Today I have been thinking about things- introspective again.
Sober mummy commented a few days ago that there are three distinct ‘phases’ to getting sober.

The first, that probably lasts for a 100 days or so is the sheer ‘getting through’ it part. When a huge amount of your focus is on just not drinking, managing social occasions without alcohol and just gritting your teeth and riding e roller coaster of emotions and physical / psychological symptoms.

The second, which is where I definitely am now, is a phase of introspection and self analysis. How did I get here? Am I an alcoholic? why am I like this etc etc. In many ways, where I am now is a great deal easier. I definitely think about drinking much less – sometimes a whole hour will go by without the thoughts of “I’m not drinking” , “it’s day X ” etc initially I reckon I thought about alcohol about every 10 seconds.

In my introspection I have been walking our dog quite a bit. I have posted a photo of Lola at the top of this post as she is so important to me and my recovery. Lola is a 2 year old border collie bitch. We have had her from a puppy and she is just the best dog ever. She adores everyone in the house, and no matter what disagreements we humans have, Lola shows no favouritism. She is always delighted to see everyone , even if you have been away for 5 minutes. She us loving, loyal and cuddly and she never tells any secrets.

Watching Lola run this morning I was reminded of childhood, it’s simplicity. All she needs is food, company and exercise – and she is completely and perfectly content. No substances, no artificial highs, she lives in the moment and enjoys everything for what it is.

Today I went on a school trip with number 3 son and his classmates. Their 11 year old enthusiasm, and infectious, irrepressible curiosity about the world around them was really cheering to my rather jaded mind. They too live a simple life.  Listening to their chatter and ideas it seemed sad to me that in the next few years they will become anxious and stressed about the future and that as their world expands from the safety of primary school and home, they will absorb the tribulations and first world concerns that affect adults.

We should all take a tip from Lola’s book of life, and live in the moment, content with what we have.

Halves …

You know that saying “she never does anything by halves” ?

That’s me.

All my life I have been driven and competitive with myself. As a child I liked to win games, not because I wanted t beat others, but because I wanted to do the very best possible. I would run to take messages at school, because it was faster than if i walked; as an adult if I’m running each 5k time has to be better than the last 5 k time… More negatively, when I buy stuff, I never buy the perfectly adequate  middle of the road version – it’s ALWAYS the top of the range model …

This coming week I’ve taken a few days annual leave. Already my time is filled with those things I never get the time to do when I’m working, see the dentist, optician, take the dog to the pooch parlour, doctors appointment, blood test, take dog to the vet, hair cut and colour, school day out with number 3  … And in addition I have decided that it is ESSENTIAL that I spring clean the entire house …(why WHY??? )

Now we don’t live in a mansion, the house is about 200 sq m (that’s 2000 sq feet), but there are 5 people and one collie dog living here as well as assorted friends colleagues and sundry folk through the house …and we have a cleaner, who is great but she just keeps on top of stuff day to day … So, after my mammoth bedroom clean yesterday, today I tackled the utility room.

I took virtually everything out, washed the floor, shelves, woodwork and cupboards. I threw away loads of stuff that we don’t actually need (shhhh don’t tell anyone !)  Then I re populated the shelves / cupboards with stuff we do need, in an ordered and logical way. Then my competitive edge came to the fore again and I decided we need a steam cleaner to lift the dirt-of -ages from the floor – once again , no second rate, middle of the road steam cleaner for me; no I bought the most expensive one in the shop,(maybe this is why I have ongoing financial problems) 

Now you might ask why I feel that I have to clean on top of all the general maintenance things I need to do. With a few precious days off I could rest, read a few books, walk the dog in a leasuirely way, get out my art box and start a new painting (or finish the three that are “almost there”)   Do some baking / cooking to a) eat good food and b) fill up the freezer. It not that I’m short of ways to fill my time ….

It’s not like I don’t believe I deserve a rest. I work FT running a practice with my two partners. I’m a Busy busy GP; I have 3 kids, I have a home to keep, a struggling relationship and friends who need my support … Maybe I feel that the mental stress if I don’t sort the house out, will be worse that the effects of doing it … Alternatively, tomorrow morning I get in the car and disappear somewhere for a few days on my own …. No, I recognise that I do a lot, and that most people would struggle to do what I do and it’s reasonable for me to have “time out” ( at least logical I know this)

But I literally cannot ignore this now, the pull to complete the house cleaning will not let me be … Of course this leaves me vulnerable to the T (ired) part of HALT ; but also the A (ngry) because I feel like no one else In The house is pulling their weight in keeping the place tidy. This leaves me feeling L (only)  … Sigh. 

It’s served me well countless times, this internal drive to succeed; right now I wonder what it would be like to be a middle-of-the-road, good enough, sensible person….

Lily 🌷

Here we go again

Today has been a very productive day. I like days like this, when I’m motivated, have clear things I want / need to achieve, and do them without procrastination. It feels good. So today I was up quite early, went to Pilates, packed the kids off to their dads and CLEANED the bedroom. I don’t do this as often as I should, so today was a very thorough, washing the paintwork, polishing the wooden floor type, clean. I washed everything, hoovered, dusted and threw away loads of rubbish. Very satisfying.

Then the trouble started. Early evening I decided to take the dog for a walk. The kids are all out, things are strained between my partner and I so I head for the park with the dog. It’s a beautiful evening and as I’m walking I start musing about drinking. Generally I allow myself space to do this as its too tiring pushing all the alcohol thoughts away. Generally my thoughts are about how pleased I am that I’m sober, and generally my thoughts are supportive of my decision not to drink. But not today , no, today I find myself missing drinking 

I’m thinking that it would be easier to talk to my partner after a few drinks, that we might manage to communicate better after a bottle glass of wine … Really ?.. And then, almost before I know where my brain is leading I’m thinking that “I’ve done 106 days, I could maybe drink for a week and then give up again ”  and I’m SERIOUSLY thinking that this is a good idea. I’m planning to go home via the supermarket ….. 

Don’t worry. I didn’t.

But it was quite an effort. Possibly the biggest effort I have had to make since the first couple if weeks. And it came from nowhere.  What saved me was the memory that this is exactly what happened last time I was sober – just one day having a drink,  and it took me  21 months to get sober again… 

I was walking the dog FFS. Not at a party, at dinner, not with others who were drinking . Just walking in the park. 

So I’m working through the checklist …. Initially I though none of the HALT emotions could be the cause of this Left field craving for alcohol …


I guess I am tired after cleaning – but a ‘good’ tired (physically tired, not emotionally exhausted ) ; although come to think of it ….. It hasn’t been the easiest week…. : not hungry; Angry … Hmmmm well yes, still pretty angry with my partner , and no way to let that out right  now. Lonely : well, yes I guess I do feel quite lonely .

OK, OK ,ok it’s perhaps not so unexpected  … I probably need to be a bit more self aware 

So… Early night, Becks blue, nice shower, movie in bed … Night all 

Lily 🌷

Friday night

Friday night was always my best ‘drinking night’ , it was the end of a tough week (always !) , the start of a weekend , and with my children with their father for the day on Saturday I could get away with a hangover / morning in bed / hair of the dog pretty easily.

I would stop on my way home and lovingly select three bottles of white wine. Usually whatever was on special offer. But sometimes I would treat myself with one of my favourite New Zealand Sauvignons and scuttle home as quick as possible. If I could buy at least one bottle that was cold, so much the better, otherwise I would stash two bottle in the freezer and put up with the first at room temeperature.

opening the wine as soon as I got in was enough of a ritual that one of the kids would invariably offer to pour me a glass of wine. The first, large glass, would disappear extremely quickly , and the rest of the bottle wasn’t far behind. I would have bough three bottles so that my partner and I could share , but as he drinks faster than I, if it didn’t buy the third bottle I couldn’t be sure of getting my share. That whole 750 mls I considered to be my entitlement. Of course once the third bottle was opened I would help myself to just one more glass, just a small one, that more often that not would turn into a further third of a bottle. Staggering off to bed at midnight, not remembering what I had watched, dehydrated, drunk and messy

Tonight has been different. I came home, spent time with my boys talking about the EU referendum, bought the youngest a new pair of football boots, put away a big internet shop, cooked dinner and ate with the boys and then watched TV with my middle son whilst sewing on an enormous number of name tapes. I’m calm, and I have plans for tomorrow that I know I will be able to fulfill.

these are the benefits of sobriety that I need to think about when the wine  witch comes calling – and those days of relentless drinking seem like fun … Actually it was not FUN at all. 

Have a quiet weekend everyone

lily 🌷



Its not exactly personal and its not exactly addiction related, but today feels like a mark in history for the UK. I was absolutely stunned to wake up this morning and find that the people of the UK had voted to leave the European Union.  Stunned, and not a little apprehensive about the future.

In my view, the leave vote has  a lot to do with the political elite choosing to dismiss the concerns of the ‘ordinary people’ by branding them ‘racist’ and failing therefore to explain WHY immigration is not the problem that it is perceived to be, and why leaving the EU is unlikely to make much difference to the number of people wanting and choosing to make their home in the UK. If I, as an educated and interested member of the general population, was almost as confused yesterday about the merits of the remain campaign as I was 6 weeks ago, what hope for the less well informed and economically privileged who see economic and social migration as the cause of the UK’s problems.

The ‘people’ have spoken; The Prime Minister has announced his resignation in the next couple of months. There will be much picking over the bones of the referendum campaigns and no doubt much mud slinging and blaming of individuals for the outcome. The markets are in turmoil and the whole future of the EU project is in question.

What next ? Honestly I have no idea. A future where we need a visa to cross the channel, a border right across the island of Ireland (as if that country has not had enough division and segregation) the economic chaos and potential mass exodus of European companies currently trading in the UK, the real potential for a further Scottish referendum resulting in the break up of the Union –  its all alarming and uncharted territory.

We must now hope for strong and balanced leadership, clear vision and a willingness to compromise and work hard to make the best of a very uncertain future. Beyond the short term turmoil and financial turbulence I hope we can emerge into a place where there is clarity of vision and direction, I hope that the tolerant, inclusive and diverse country I have been so proud to be part of, can survive this divisive upheaval, and I hope that we can work together to build a strong and thriving society for the future. But I’m very afraid  that’s a lot of mountains to climb and that what we carve out will not be as good as what we have thrown away. When we realise that, it will be too late to go back.

What’s different ?



I’ve posted the above picture because its soothing to me, at a time when I am seriously in need of some soothing. Its a picture taken in one of my favourite places, where I have spent many many happy days

When I was at the contemplative stage of the change cycle re stopping drinking, one of the things that caught my eye, was the suggestion that to be successful in making a change, you have to ‘do things differently’.

I thought about this for a while and wondered what I could ‘do’ differently. It seemed (and still does) to me that its not STOPPING drinking that’s the problem – rather it’s staying stopped once the initial flush of success wear off, committing successfully to long term sobriety. You may have seen my previous posts about my conviction that its learning to not WANT to drink which is key.

So what can I do differently to help myself along the path to that goal. I can remind myself, should it be necessary, of all the reasons I decided that sobriety was the best option for me. I can read articles, books and blogs about the health effects of excessive drinking, and I can look at the examples in front of me professionally, at what happens to people who do not draw the line and stay sober. But that’s what I did last time, it helped, and it still does but –  its not different.

Reaching out to the wider community of sober people, asking for help and offering it where I can – writing this blog ; that’s a bit different, it helps me to feel connected with others who are on the same path as me. The similarities of experience transcend the differences and the support has been amazing. I now have a whole library of books that thoughtful people have recommended based on my posts.

I’m wondering again about real life support.About maybe trying to make one or two real life sober friends, The friends I have I love dearly, and I certainly don’t expect them to change their drinking habits around me, but I think my self imposed sobriety makes some feel uncomfortable (of those few I have told)- like they have to justify their choices around me. It make ME feel slightly awkward in some situations, and that I really don’t want to get into discussion around why I have made this decision (at the moment) probably doesn’t help.

So I’ve been pondering again on AA. That would certainly be different. On the positive side it seems a good place to find sober people, and a good place to get positive reinforcement. On the negative side I really don’t want to be recognized, I really do NOT want to ‘work the steps’ and I really can’t attend 90 meetings in 90 days, and I don’t want to be set up to fail, and then judged on that failure. sigh. I wish there was an AA ‘lite’ option !

I think I’ve decided yesterdays therapist was not for me. She was nice enough, but I didn’t feel any empathy from her, and although I heard her ‘that must be difficult’ and ‘that sounds very hard’, they felt like stock phrases and not genuine. On the other hand I did come out of the session with a grip on one truth, that I hadn’t really accepted before…

What have been your experiences of AA? Good and bad? Or have you found sober friends elsewhere?

Lily x




Today I had an initial meeting with a therapist. There is so much other shit in my life that the subject of my drinking didn’t come up in the hour I was in there. Quite ironic really, that this doesn’t seem to be the focus of my problems right now.

What did come through my unstructured narrative was the profound sense of shame that I feel. I think it permeates all aspects of my personal life. Logically I know that if I were looking in from the outside, I would forgive this person that I am. I would comfort her and point out to her the many many good things she has done, and the sense of love and optimism that has driven many of her decisions.

But I can’t do that for myself. As I’m staring down the barrel of yet another failed relationship I just feel overwhelming shame and despair that I am such a shit person that no relationships last, that I keep trying and the same old patterns keep repeating themselves. That I am so crap that even my own mother doesn’t like me. I could cry for all the pain I have brought to my children who deserve none of this, and all I want to do is crawl away to a place where I don’t have to cope, or fight or struggle to make myself heard.

I actually don’t know how I am going to crawl through the next two days at work. Plaster on my professional face and mange the problems of all those who come to see me. Sooth and calm staff ructions, write a business plan for a new service. I’m not fit to do this, but home is no sanctuary either. I feel as though I am at breaking point

I would say “This is so hard sober”, and indeed it is, but I have no doubt it would be much harder drunk. Day 103, and keeping going.



The grip of alcoholism

This morning I have spent two hours in a child protection conference. One of the parents is deeply addicted to alcohol. This was one of the most painful conferences I have ever attended. Both parents are deeply in denial about the risks posed to the children as a result of alcohol; one is permenantly drunk and the other so co-dependent they are not able to take any steps to do what need to be done to protect the children.

The alcoholic parent is an educated, attractive, articulate empathic person. Everything bad that is happening to them, involvement of social services, removal of their parental responsibility, separation form their children, admission under section to a psychiatric ward, arrest, police caution, frequent admissions to hospital with vomiting blood, liver failure, and shortly death, is entirely and completed attributable to drinking alcohol. And they will NOT seek help. Will NOT engage. Will not consider residential detox. Wail and rail and moan about what is happening to them, but will not, cannot, accept responsibility to change themselves. My comment at the end “I know you love your children, but sadly at the moment you love drinking more” was brutal, but accurate.

I’m a bit fragile myself at the moment, and this is horribly close to the bone.

I have been in my profession long enough to know that I can advise, support, offer guidance – but until people are willing to listen it’s all to no avail, but this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to watch.

Thank god, or thank a higher power, or thank luck that I am not in that persons position. That I retained insight sufficient to call a halt before any of these awful consequences came to me.

And what of the codependent one ? Actually I’ve been there too. My ex husband was / is a drug addict and alcoholic. I turned a blind eye to his drug taking for far too long – deflected from actually dealing with it by fear, denial, cowardice and optimism. Only when his aggression, paranoia and hostility spilled over into actual violence, physical and emotional did I act. And I always had the financial and practical wherewithal to deal with the fall out.

All the while I drank, to escape from the brutal reality that I couldn’t change him, couldn’t make him want to change, and that the responsibility for acting came down to me. The consequences, for myself and my children were my responsibility. As a drinker I was never an aggressive drunk; more a sloppy, sleepy, oversharing , over emotional, impetuous drunk. I don’t doubt that I have done harm,but it was easy to minimise when compared with the other adult who lived with us.

And now I live with a man who does not work, is super critical of my children to the point  that last night we all sat in our separate spaces with no communication at all. Because the kids don’t want to be shouted at. He won’t change. I need to “grow a pair” and change what I’m not happy with.

The dangers of codependency have been displayed to me this morning. I know what is happening inside my own life – only I can change it. I’ve taken the first step by getting sober. Now I need to be strong for my kids.


My Mother

My mother is a most abstemious woman. Where ever I get my ‘addictive tendencies’ from its definitely not from her. My father died when I was 21 – and I didn’t really know him as a person at all – he had been unwell for several years before his death. If I had to hazard a guess I would think I inherited the ‘risk taking’ part of my personality from him.

I don’t think my mother likes me very much. I know that she loves me, and I know that to some extent she is proud of my achievements, but I have always felt that a) she dislikes me as a person and b) she disapproves of me. I don’t know if this is because I remind her of my father, or she just doesn’t like me very much. In fact how SHE feels about me matters less than why it bothers me so much, even at 51.

She dislikes me drinking. I have never ever seen my mother drunk , or even tipsy. She literally cannot see the point of drinking more than 1 glass of wine – or two on special occasions; and appears to despise people who drink more than this. She is also amazingly focused on herself. When I stopped drinking in 2013. her response was only about how awful it had been FOR HER watching me drink, which bearing in mind that I rarely drank in front of her was quite something. Not one word of praise or encouragement, not one comment of sympathy or empathy, just comments about how awful it had been for her watching me drink. Writing this down I can feel that I am ANGRY about this response, that is literally the first time I have felt anger about this.

So why do I care what an almost 80 year old woman thinks ? Why do I care that she has never once told me I looked nice, (indeed one of her comments on my appearance was that ‘those shoes make you look like a prostitute’) has always always disapproved of my boyfriends/ partners (all of them) ; cannot understand why I want to travel, questions me about my fiances and is generally passive aggressive.

And why do I feel that this constant quest for approval, that will never come, is in some  way tied up with my addictive, anxious, insecure frail personality which wears a coat of armour to face the outside world, and destroys herself behind closed doors.

Answers on a postcard please

Lily x


100 days

Today is the 100th consecutive day I have not drunk alcohol.

I’ve been looking forward to being able to write that. 100 days. It feels like a long time, and conversely no time at all. 

I stopped drinking on the day I did, following a fall at home, of which I have no memory at all. In fact I don’t really remember much about coming home that night. My partner tells me I was stumbling around, and that I fell, narrowly missing my head on a sharp object. It was that one ‘last straw’ blackout that made me decide ‘enough’, but in reality it could have been any one of a number of pretty shocking, embarrassing and sometimes dangerous things I did in the last 18 months. I have the list. I wrote it shortly after I decided (again) that absolute sobriety was the only answer. At present I haven’t felt the need to revisit that list – its pretty much burned into my brain – and as such I’m still very clear that I can’t drink at ALL. 

I started this blog, because whilst I knew I could live without drinking, I wanted to WANT to live without drinking. To me that’s the only way to stay long term sober. It’s no good denying yourself something you want indefinitely – we all know diets don’t work for exactly that reason. No, being AF has to be a positive choice, made with conviction and commitment to see out the rough and the smooth – not a self denying exercise in will power. 

So where am I , 100 days in? The positives are undeniable – I sleep well, my skin is better, I look better and take better care of myself. I am more flexible and have better balance thanks to the yoga and Pilates I have attended and practiced. My children at least the youngest feels happier. I have lost the shame and fear about what I might have done the night before , I can put the recycling  out without shame. Bigger anxieties have abated; what’s happening to my liver? Exactly how much alcohol IS in my system this morning ? Am I ok to drive ?. Do I smell of stale wine ? The absence of these worries is a tangible and measurable benefit that I am thankful for…

BUT – and maybe don’t read this bit if you are newly stopped and hoping for a woman still on the pink cloud … My emotions are all over the place (they probably always were, it’s just that I was too drink to notice) I feel sad and flat quite a lot of the time. I’m also bored, and unmotivated which makes the self critical part of me berate myself a lot. I am unsocial, and often agitated and (inwardly) irritable when in company. I feel self conscious, inadequate and socially inept, in a way tha I don’t recall when a couple of glasses of wine were swiftly downed at every social occasion. My relationship with my partner is thrown into stark relief . The good , and the really not so good. I feel I can’t trust what I think or feel at the moment. 

I’m not about to renege on my commitment to sobriety; I know that I can’t. I just hope it gets better than this. 
Lily 🌷


Yesterday I wrote that I was planning to start therapy. My reasoning being a) no one can be as interested in sorting me out as I am, and I need some help ? (B) there is just so much ‘stuff’ in my head right now that I feel I need some help to unravel it (c) vaguely I’m hoping it might improve My self esteem by helping me be less self critical. 

One or two warning type posts have suggested to me that this might not be the best time to start therapy / ‘self analysis’ as its early days in my new sober life. I’m guessing this is along the same lines of don’t make any major decisions in the first year of sobriety …

Does anyone else have any thoughts ? Experiences ? Good or bad ?. I do feel quite ‘raw’ and ‘suggestable’ at the moment … 

OTOH I have avoided dealing with a heap of stuff for a very long time, by drinking to forget. I think I am afraid that with no drink,  a well of self criticism / hostility and sabotage will somehow overwhelm me …. 

Lily 🌷



Since I got sober, my self examination, navel gazing, analysis of self, has mushroomed. There are so many thoughts jostling around in my head,  so many half developed theories, or attractive ideas. So many experiences that I want to ponder on, so many decisions I need to justify (or not). Its hard to impose any kind or order or structure on my subconscious which feels like a gigantic concrete mixer for emotions and experiences, periodically throwing one up to the surface to be briefly examined before its subsumed back in to the concrete mix.

I started this blog to try and capture some of these thoughts and see if I could identify any themes or strands that on reflection may be significant. I’m afraid I don’t and can’t subscribe to simple theories of alcoholism – either genetic or environmental; and neither can I believe that my addictions are outside my control .I believe there is a hugely complex and subtle mix of environmental, social, societal and inherited factors that contribute to the development of personality, behaviour and also to compulsive / addictive traits. For me, it thus follows that I need to understand this, for myself, about myself, to help me move forward on a healthier more productive a path. My partner, who decide to stop drinking (for now) 17 days ago has none of this angst and soul searching. I’m not sure if I envy that or think he is still in denial!!

So, when I read back through my postings I do see some themes, and some repetitive thoughts. Some things I have written several times. Whilst that seems ‘lazy’ and wrong on one way (boring for anyone who happens to read my posts), in another its exactly what I was hoping to get from writing every (most) day(s). To have a tangible record of what I was tinging, what floated to the surface on THAT day when I sat at my keyboard. There are SO many posts I could write, so much ‘stuff’ in my brain – that I cant hold onto what I thought yesterday let alone last week ! I feel as though I am naked, with no fixed ideas, no definite beliefs and no grounding … does that make any sense?

I have booked an initial appointment with a therapist for next week. I am guarded about this, and uncertain, but I am coming to see that an outlet, in real life,  for my racing, contradictory, confusing and very self critical thoughts, might be a good idea. I’ve got a chance here, to build a good future – maybe I could use some help…

One recurring thought that I do BELIEVE is that there are many people here and elsewhere who have stopped drinking for good. Not one of them has ever said that life is shit now, or not fun or that they wish they were still drinking. So I’m going to keep going …


Yesterday I had lunch with two of my oldest friends. We live in different parts of the country, all have busy lives, but we try to meet 2 -3 times a year for lunch. In the past these lunches has been boozy affairs, at times very boozy. Inevitably I would stagger out from the restaurant in the early evening, later than I had promised.I would struggle home, and breeze in, trying to appear sober(ish) – a charade that usually lasted about 30 minutes before I escaped upstairs to my bed. The next day – yes, hangover from hell, tired (poor quality sleep) irritable (guilt mostly)  – another ‘bad day’.

When I stopped drinking in 2013/14 I did tell my friends what I had done, although we did not really discuss why I felt it was necessary. Obviously I lapsed back into drinking alcohol, which was noted but not discussed further.

Yesterday I made an excuse why I didn’t want any wine. I have really not told anyone. I wonder why ?

Is it shame ? I am ashamed that I have drunk so much in the past, I am ashamed of many things I have done. I am probably ashamed that I cant ‘moderate’; but I am NOT ashamed of my decision to be abstinent… so I don’t think it is shame that kept me quiet.

Is is denial ? That if I don’t tell people it might just be a ‘phase’ that I am going through. That somehow one day I will wake up and on THIS day I will be able to be a moderate drinker, and if I tell people I’m not drinking now,  they wont believe me or understand when I say, in the future, that its all ok now… ? That’s bonkers thinking – and I know it.

Is it fear that I will fail again and I don’t want anyone else  to know? Different from the above – I fail and start drinking again despite the knowledge that this is a  very BAD IDEA. Then I have to face pity (and disapproval)

Actually I think the main issue is that I actually just don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to discuss why I know I must not drink any more, and whilst I know these friend would respect that wish, I don’t want people thinking my alcohol problem is either worse than it was, or paradoxically that I’m overreacting.

I have realised  that drawing attention to myself and my own problems is not something I feel comfortable with. Asking for help, IRL, is really hard for me – although I will be the first in the queue to offer it. One possible interpretation of ‘just not wanting to talk about it’ might be that I no longer want my relationship with alcohol to be a defining part of my life – and whilst that is true- for the moment it sadly is – hence this blog ! One day I hope that I will not drink as naturally as I don’t take drugs – but we are not there yet!

In one way I have reached out for help from the wider community by writing this blog, and by joining various sober websites, in another I am keeping my ‘battle’ completely private.. I am not sure that’s a good thing from the wider perspective.

What do others think ? To share – or not ?




This is something of a new concept to me, and one that I have read about several times in the last few weeks.

Wikipaedia defines alexithymia as

Alexithymia is a personality construct characterized by the sub-clinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.

This is something I strongly identify with, although it has taken me until my 50’s to fully appreciate how this ongoing dysfunction has affected me. When I was in my early 20’s I had a boyfriend who came from a significantly more wealthy family than I did: although I often felt diminished and rather pitied by his parents because I had not gone to a notable public school, I prided myself on being able to ‘fit in’ to that environment. Similarly, when spending time with  a rather bitchy group of fashion obsessed young women, I could adapt to being ‘one of them’ with ease, this despite the fact that (a) I had nothing at all in common with them and (b) I was frequently the subject of  unkind comparisons and snide remarks. This pattern was repeated frequently with different groups of people, and boyfriends. I don’t recall having anything at all that I really believed in FOR MYSELF.

I honestly remember being pleased that I could pull on alternative personae and adopt the thoughts and feelings of those I was with. It didn’t occour to me that, by my early 20’s, it would have been more appropriate to have a strong sense of my own values and opinions. That drifting along with the crowd was not ‘zen’ and chill, but indicative of an alarming lack of self esteem and poor sense of self worth. It was as though I didn’t trust my own opinion about anything at all.

From here developed the typical ‘people pleaser’ who avoided virtually all forms of conflict. I literally couldn’t bear to state my own point of view – if I even knew what it was. I bent over backwards and sideways to accommodate other peoples needs and took little account of my own.  As a partner, if my boyfriend did something to upset or annoy me, I would not discuss it or confront him. Instead the anger took root and gradually built and built until exploding, always when I was drunk, in  a huge torrent of uncontrollable rage. Of course to my partner this was out of the blue as they had previously had no idea I was upset by what ever it was…. This pattern of extreme compliance followed by infrequent but unrestrained vociferous drunken outbursts, continued right through my relationships until I married aged 36. The interesting thing to me was that I didn’t KNOW what I was angry about until it all burst out of me. Its not that I noticed that X forgot my birthday and I stored the resentment away , allowing it to fester until it exploded. No, I would have noted that X forgot my birthday, explained it away to myself logically, never acknowledged to myself that it had hurt or upset me until weeks or months later when it would spew from me in a vituperous tirade that bordered on, or tipped into, verbal abuse.

I could, and will, examine the emotional vulnerability that culminated in an ill advised marriage, in a later blog. For now I want to look again at the construct of alexithymia.

later in the same article from wikipaedia

The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating. Furthermore, individuals suffering from alexithymia also have difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of others, which is thought to lead to unempathic and ineffective emotional responding.

This passage does not resonate with me at all. If anything I have always been over attuned to the emotional needs and nuances of others, contorting my behaviour and emotional response to another’s perceived requirements.

So If i do not display the classic alexithymic traits, how would I be described in psychological language – an empath?

Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners.”

This really doesn’t fit either. I feel, acutely and intensely, the emotion coming from someone else – especially if it is negative towards me; but I will intellectualize my own emotional response until it is NOT an emotion any longer.

Sometimes I think I drank as this was the only way i could lower my inhibitions enough to FEEL anything negative at all, or rather, allow myself to feel anything negative… anger, frustration, irritation, boredom.. not allowed. Unless I was drunk when the inhibitions would slide and the suppressed rage and despair came tumbling out.


Today I am disgustingly excited

I have planned to do something entirely and completely for myself this afternoon. It is totally self indulgent and, dare I say it, vain. I’m not planing to tell ANYONE in real life. 

The wish to do something vain self caring, tells me that my self esteem is improving. When I have been drinking heavily I feel low, and don’t care about my appearance / clothing / grooming, beyond the basic cleanliness and ironed clothes. I will often not bother with make up, dress for comfort rather than elegance, and hide my figure (which is not THAT bad for 51) in a selection of unflattering baggy tops, skirts and trousers. 

Yesterday I celebrated my 3 months soberversary. Not than anyone other than me was aware if it, and that is what I wanted. We had a big family lunch, with my partners children and mum as well as my kids. DP and I did not drink, and we had a wonderful, happy, family Sunday. My partner, who has also been a heavy drinker, completed 12 days AF yesterday, and has said that he feels better, is more focused, clearer and more motivated. Well, who knew ! From my perspective he is a lot less grumpy (though he still snores). I’m hoping he will decide to continue AF, but I am saying very little and hoping the results speak for themselves…

Yesterdays lunch was a testament to how much fun can be had without alcohol. Pre March I would have started drinking on the stroke of 12. By the time the family arrived I would have been almost a bottle down, lunch would have been late (er), and it is possible that an argument would have ensued – not caused by me, but by the alcohol consumed all around. This morning I would have been hungover, tired and depressed. 

So,  my positive mood today, my self caring treat booked for later (I’m actually a bit nervous) my smart clothes and shoes, my inner smile at the thought of a happy family lunch – all of these things have come about because I am sober. Today I am as close as I have ever been to not wanting to drink alcohol. Not denying myself, not resisting  the urge, but choosing NOT to drink because my life is better without it.

This feels important, I want to box this feeling and hold it close – I’ll settle for sharing it with my lovely sober friends and thank you for your support






I have been musing on why people, having fought hard for a few weeks or months of sobriety then lapse and start drinking again. I think I’m hoping if I can understand it, It might be less likely to happen to me. I do know this is nonsense, and that there are so many reasons why people start drinking again I could never ever understand them all.

It’s not about how much people NEED to give up drinking. I have seen people dying from drink stubbornly refuse to take any steps to stop – and others who drink way less than I did decide to pack it in.

Is it about how much people WANT to stop drinking ?


Rock bottom, where traditional alcoholic ‘law’ says you need to be before you can quit, is very different for different people. Most of the sober men and women I have ‘met’ on the internet in the last few months have not hit the traditional ‘rock bottom’ in that they still have jobs, families, houses, partners. Most of them, and I include myself, have just reached a point where they can see what’s coming if they don’t quit. (See  The train ) Everyone has tried (endlessly ) to moderate and failed again and again. Many land up with a decision to go AF as a last resort to escape the awful cycle of drinking, shame, hangover, anxiety, drinking.

For many, and again I include myself, it takes a few goes. The first time I really KNEW the only option for me, ultimately, was total abstinence, I was 33.  I managed 6 weeks, convinced myself it was ‘not that bad’; I had ‘learned to moderate’  and started drinking again, with predictable results.

Maybe that’s one reason people lapse. Denial and self-delusion.

The second time I stopped drinking I was really desperate. My mental health was shot to pieces, mostly due to home stresses, I knew that alcohol could not be helping me –  despite using it as a crutch every single day – so I decided to quit.  That withdrawal / detox process was very, very hard, and despite staying almost completely sober, I had my most serious episode of suicidal anxiety and depression that necessitated 6 weeks off work.

Ironically when I recovered I felt so well I started drinking again, almost immediately. On reflection I don’t think I believed that I could be one of the people who succeeded and thus, by believing I would inevitably fail at some point, I set myself up for it.

Maybe self sabotage is another reason people lapse.

I have also considered the understanding of complete sobriety. Last time I stopped I ‘allowed’ myself a drink on Boxing Day when my children were with their father and DP and I were alone. And another (few) when we went away for a weekend in April. I didn’t understand then, what I do now, that this was just one more attempt to fool myself that I could moderate, drink “sometimes” on “special occasions”

On that Boxing Day (2013) I wrote about my experience:

“i did drink a glass of champagne. Within the first mouthful it was as if the previous 50 odd days had never happened, suddenly everything was about alcohol again, how much I could drink – how grey and dull everything was without it, ugh…. I was every bit as consumed with the wish to drink myself senseless as I ever have been. i loved the idea of being ‘out of it’ …desperately wanted to finish that bottle and every other bottle in the vicinity”.

That stuff is powerful. What was blindingly obvious, but I could not see, was that to succeed at being AF you have to BE AF, completely, 100%, ALL THE TIME…

Drinking “sometimes” perpetuates the myth that you can be normal around alcohol, it reawakens the ‘wine witch’; It allows space to that nagging voice what says ” well nothing bad happened on Boxing Day did it” … which just starts the whole damn argument again.

I think that’s not being ready, which is perhaps the biggest reason why people lapse – for whatever reason, with the best will in the world and the strongest motivation, they are just not ready.

This time I AM ready. I am not in denial, I believe – no, I KNOW, I can do this,  I will Never drink again in any shape or form, Never. I don’t need it, I am tired of it.




I’ve come a long way


Yesterday I wrote that it was 12 weeks since I had drunk alcohol.

I was wrong.

Its been 13 weeks !

It got me thinking about how far I have come. Thirteen weeks ago I could have counted by the hour how long it was that I had not drunk. Thoughts of drinking , not drinking, how to explain myself, get out of drinking, manage situations, make excuses, resist cravings dominated my thoughts constantly. CONSTANTLY. It was exhausting and very demoralising. I also felt I would be stuck that way for ever. I KNEW intellectually I would not – because I had previously managed a reasonable period of sobriety and those obsessions and preoccupations had faded. But, in the thick of the withdrawal phase, I was utterly preoccupied and terrified.

Now I am much, much calmer. Thoughts about alcohol, its role in my life to date, the decision not to drink still occupy a significant percentage of my time; but they are calm thoughts, coherent, and they feel manageable. I am also distractable now and there will be several hours when I do NOT think about drinking.

I sleep SO well. Deeply, restfully, calmly. You can see it on my activity tracker which monitors my sleep. No more nights with 50 -60 episodes of restlessness, no more hours of sweating anxious wakefulness trying to recall the end of an evening; no more raging thirst, pounding head and nausea. Just deep, restorative sleep.

My relationship with my partner has improved. Especially as he has decided to join me in the AF life, at least for now. Our relationship feels kinder, more supportive, more intimate. I feared that drinking together held us together, now i feel it was driving us apart.

I have already spoken about my relationship with my adored youngest son, which seems to have developed an openness and honesty on his side that has enabled him to confide more in me. My anxieties over his oldest brother have not abated, but they have assumed less monstrous proportions in my mind. I catastrophise less and feel more able to relax while allowing him to make the mistakes that I cannot influence. My angry, hormonal middle son is less easy to reach, but I hope my calmer, more consistent presence will provide him with greater stability and security as he navigates the teen rights of passage.

I have taken up Yoga and Pilates. I look forward to each class and am able to be present, in the moment, to benefit from the exercise, the meditation and the discipline.

My physical health has improved. One major motivator to quit drinking was the unpleasant discovery that I have developed hypertension. Perhaps not surprising considering I am 51, have a highly pressured job and was drinking 70 units a week, but unwelcome none the less. Since I quit drinking I have been able to reduce my medication and maintain a low/ normal blood pressure. My blood test results, showing some signs of alcohol related damage have improved.

My ‘Imdonedrinking’app, tells me I have saved > 800 pounds in the last 92 days… well, I have not spent it on alcohol anyway..

How do I feel – in one word – optimistic. There is some way to go – I expect this to be an evolving journey – but I know I am on the right path.

Uncomfortable feelings

Like many others, and lots without alcohol problems, I drank, at least partly, to suppress uncomfortable feelings. Ironically – as I knew even whilst I was drinking – the drinking created more uncomfortable feelings of guilt and shame.

Since I had my last alcoholic drink 12 weeks ago today, I have had to find other ways of managing anxiety, anger, frustration, fear and confusion. I can no longer get quietly drunk and forget / bury the emotions, I have to live through them

At the moment, my youngest son – who has just turned 11, is sharing with me his thoughts about my drinking. He noticed I was not drinking about 10 days in; my other sons, being older and more self absorbed probably wouldn’t have noticed if I had started wearing a temperance suit, but the youngest, still at primary school – asked me why I wasn’t drinking wine. First intensely shameful  feeling. I knew that, theoretically, children absorb the way their parents behave. I knew that all the kids had observed mum coming in from work and barely stopping to say hello before opening a cold bottle of wine… I hadn’t allowed myself to really KNOW how strongly they associated the evening with Mummy drinking wine….

I told him that “I didn’t feel like it at the moment”, and the subject dropped. He didn’t mention it again until about 2 weeks ago in the Supermarket when I bought myself some Becks Blue Lemon. Then, the full extent of his observations and anxieties relating to my past behaviour started to come out. Small comments to begin with; ” You are in a much better mood now you are not drinking”; “Its better now you are not drinking” ; ” Are you going to start drinking again?” (worried voice).

Then more specific comments “Do you remember when X came round and you were drunk ?” (followed by some mildly embarrassing story about how I ordered the wrong pizza); “You have more patience and listen more when you don’t drink”; “Now you get up early with me at the weekends” Followed by “are you going to start drinking again”…

I have answered these comments, which are almost every day now, matter of factly without communicating ( I hope) to my son, any emotional weight associated with either the (not) drinking or the comments. But My goodness they cut me to the quick. The fact that my innocent, sparky, happy little boy has been worrying about what I, his mother and shield, has been drinking; that he has ‘managed’ me when I have been drunk ( and we are not talking VERY drunk here, not falling down drunk – we are talking day to day inebriation) This is so deeply shameful to me I hardly know how to face it. It is one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever had to deal with – and I have to do it without mind altering substances. I have to look myself in the mirror every day and know that I DID THIS, and it cannot be erased.

All I can do now is commit to not doing it again and hope that the memories fade. And manage the shame as best I can.

We joke about this, which is why I have included this image. But its not funny really. Drunk Mummy is unpredictable & scary. Drunk adults are slurry, boring, dis-inhibited and frightening at times.

Never again


cognitive dissonance


I’m wondering increasingly about my persistent listlessness and inability to ‘get on with things’. This is really unlike me – and although I know I must allow myself space to adjust to the new reality of not drinking, I’m struggling with the consequences – it seems to me that everything is falling apart.

I lack the motivation to cook, to clean up, to manage the washing, to help the kids with homework, to manage my paperwork. All I seem to do is watch rubbish TV, drag myself to the gym, spend money I don’t have, and EAT – sugar and carbs being top of the list.

This behaviour, or lack of it, is making me really miserable. I wake feeling hopeful, planning things I need to do, and then all my energy is used up being at work and I come home with barely the energy to unload the dishwasher. The house is a mess, the kids do very little, (In reality nothing at all unless I nag them to death) and my partner just doesn’t seem to see what needs done.

All this failure to do what I need to, is not great for my mood.

This persistent feeling, from ‘not bring good enough ‘ to just plain BAD , is very familiar to me. For a long time it was my drinking that I felt bad about, my weakness in giving in every day to the lure of alcohol. It’s ironic that, having removed the dissonant feeling related to my drinking , it’s almost immediately replaced with something else.

Could it be that I’m so unfamiliar with feeling happy with myself, so unused to Not feeling ashamed of me, that I am self sabotaging? Replacing my disgust with myself related to my drinking to disgust with myself for laziness, overeating and neglectful parenting?

Is this uncharacteristic idleness serving some deeper psychological need within me ? That it’s too hard to be proud of myself ? That I deep inside believe I am too worthless to feel comfortable in my own skin. So, to bring back the unpleasant but familiar cognitive dissonance and self disgust, I subconsciously do other things that I disapprove of.

Oh heck I am a mess. A sober mess, but still a dreadful mess …


Right from early childhood I was taught to put others first. Consider what they wanted, put myself out to make others happy. I was conditioned to behave in a way which took little account of my own feelings. Indeed I almost grew up believing that my FEELINGS were of no account. When asked by various counsellors over my adult life how I ‘felt’ about certain situations , I have often been completely unable to identify my emotions about almost any given experience. It has recently – in the last two years – occurred to me how abnormal, and more importantly unhealthy, this is. 

Always putting others first has been, unsurprisingly, a recipe for disaster. I have literally not been able to respond with appropriate anger and outrage when appalling things have been done by others. I have struggled to feel anger, let alone express it, when I have been physically threatened by my ex husband. 

Getting sober – and staying sober means that I have to put my needs higher up the list. I have three children – and their needs (and often wants) have been my first priority, add to my life a FT professional job running a medium sized healthcare business with two others, a partner I adore, my mum, friends and it’s easy to see how carving out time to attend to my own needs has been a low priority.

I know, to be long term successful, and to grow and develop into the woman I believe I can be, I need to reverse the habits of a lifetime and start prioritising my needs. We all know that cravings and temptations are harder to resist when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired – and we all know individual triggers that make us want to reach for the nearest bottle of alcohol – any alcohol. I need to manage my work load, personal time, activities and social life do that I minimise these triggers , and support myself in achieving what I desperately want to.

It’s hard though, to learn to put oneself first … And will be called selfish by some. … I just need to reframe that “selfish” as self protective / self care / self love


imageI’m still struggling with low mood and boredom, and a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. So today I have decided to write about my hopes for the future. In many ways my decision to cease drinking was based on an increasing cognitive dissonance, I enjoyed my wine, relied on it, used to to fill uncomfortable spaces in my life, but I had been increasingly uncomfortable with my resultant behaviour.

So the first of my hopes for the future – which is already being partially realised, is that I will live a more authentic life. I will not be doing something which on many levels I don’t actually want to. I hope that this authenticity will reduce some of my self criticism and feeling of worthlessness. Being drunk, and the way I behaved was not great for self esteem – and I am looking forward to remembering my behaviour without cringing.

I have hopes for my professional life too. Too many times I have been operating below par, cutting corners and fighting nausea whilst I get through the days. There are things I want to achieve at work, things that require higher level thinking – time and consistent concentration. I believe I have the aptitude and necessary skills to develop my business further – and that doing so will provide me with a satisfaction that has been lacking in recent years.

My hopes for my personal life are the most important. I’ve had a pretty tumultuous last 20 years. I’ve made some seriously foolish decisions and had to live with the consequences, I honestly believe that as a sober woman I will have more to offer my friends, family and my relationship. I hope that being proud of myself, rather than slightly ashamed, will translate into taking better care of myself all round. It already has to some extent – I attend yoga and Pilates now, and am much more physically active. These classes are at times when I would previously have been either drinking or hungover ! Some of the money I used to spend on alcohol I am spending on gym membership – and some of the time I have saved is being invested in self care. I have a dream that I will,one day be flexible like the others in my yoga class, and develop a posture like my yoga teacher !

I hope my kids will be proud of me. That they will never worry that I will embarrass them by being drunk, they they will see me as an honest, developing person, and respect what I have achieved.

As I write this post, I can feel some of my listlessness dissipating. It’s empowering when I see that these hopes are within my grasp. And to achieve them, all I have to do is stay dry.




“change…usually begins with a door closing, an ending, a completion, a loss, a death. Then we enter an uncomfortable period, mourning this completion and living in the uncertainty of what is next. This period is hard.

But just when we feel we can’t take it anymore, something new emerges: a reintegration, a reinvestment, a new beginning. A door opens. If you fight change, you will be fighting your whole life. That’s why we need to find a way to embrace change, or at least to accept it.

Through aspiring to accept life on life’s terms we begin to move from feeling like a victim and blaming the world around us.”

Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

I am struggling a bit right now. I managed the physical symptoms of the first two weeks, and I survived the draining insomnia. I coped with the first few social encounters, smiled and explained away my unusual abstemious behaviour. I went on a weekend break – normally a huge excuse to drink heavily. And I did not drink.

Now the intense cravings have largely passed, I’ve settled into NOT opening the wine when I get home, I’m sleeping better… Importantly to me, my blood pressure has reduced significantly. And I’m a bit bored. I’m aware of a creeping ennui, and a vague feeling of dissatisfaction; a feeling of being short changed.

I have not lost any weight, my life is not magically transformed, I still have problems. In fact the blunt reality of those problems seems more present, real and intrusive than they were when I drank to forget. I’m not running, although I have taken up Pilates and Yoga;  I’m still overwhelmed and over stressed. What’s the point?

When I read the above quote, from a psychiatrist I greatly respect, I remember that choosing sobriety also involves loss and grief. Sure, much of the loss is positive, but there is also loss that deserves recognition. The loss of myself as a ‘normal drinker’, the grief at the time I have wasted, the acceptance of the foolish, selfish and at times dangerous things I have done. These things need acknowledgement; they need emotional space so that they can be processed, accepted and I can move on.

I have read a large number of “sober bibles”; at the time I read avidly and absorbed every word as though it were gospel. Now, as I reflect on some of what I read, I chose to reject the relentlessly positive message that comes from some self help books. There is loss, grief and sadness in accepting change, I suggest there needs to be.

But ultimately I expect there will be acceptance, and peace. This picture, taken in one of my favourite places feels peaceful to me.


Not as bad as others… Yet

Since I have decided that my drinking days are over I have confided in only a few people. Last time I stopped drinking I told a few more – and a common response was surprise that I should feel the need to stop drinking completely. I guess I hid the full extent of my consumption quite well. But surprise, and suggestions that I could ‘just have one’ or ‘keep or to the weekends’, just remind me that whilst I may appear to others to be successful and in control, the reality was somewhat different.

In my line of work I have seen many people who drink too much. For the last 20 years or so, I have comforted myself with the thought that I am ‘not as bad as them’ ; Now I add “yet” on to the end of that sentence.

‘Not as bad as others.. Yet’ .. I have not been in trouble with the law, have not lost my job, children or relationships through alcohol YET; my health has not broken down, YET…

But I saw how close the line was between NOW when things were ok, and one small error – when the whole house of cards could come tumbling down.

I had ‘only’ been drinking 60 -70 units a week. That’s quite light compared with some – and I have fooled / deluded myself with that knowledge ….

In reality – ONLY ??? what the fuck – that is 5 x the recommended limits – and it WAS impacting negatively on MY life. I had missed work due to drinking in the last year – ok, only once – but countless more days I had been below standard, irritable and performed poorly because I have been hungover …. The impact on family time has been more nebulous, and is the subject of an alternative blog post I think.
It was time to stop. While I am my family are still intact.

I have told only my partner that I intend never to drink again. I don’t know why I am reticent – it may be predominantly that I am ashamed to admit my alcohol dependence. It maybe because normal people – you know those who don’t drink because they don’t like the taste – don’t really talk about it. It may be because it’s personal, and the decision is private… I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s because once you tell people there us no way back … You can’t exactly say one day ” ok I’ve stopped drinking because I recognised I had a problem ” , and then be seen waving a bottle of sav blanc the next can you !

So for today I am thankful I have been granted the strength to quit before it was too late…” Not as bad as others yet” – and hopefully now, never.img_0262


You want to stop drinking. You get as far as having a few days AF. Your significant other/your friends get a bit tetchy about it, so you cave in (lets be honest, we never need (needed) much of an excuse) and get totally wellied, with all the guilt and other ramifications that go with it. The people that wanted you to drink in the first place now take great pleasure in telling you what an arse you made of yourself the night before.
Stop – rewind the tape and have a look at what you’re thinking here. You have a drink because other people want you to?? You’re killing yourself to keep other people happy?? Really?? That’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.(Nelson Mandela) 

Being sober is my number one priority at the moment. I will put that need above other people’s expectations, social obligations, niceties, prior arrangements everything. At home, with my family I am confident I can resist the urge to drink; outside, in other company, not so much. So for now, I don’t put myself in positions where I feel uncomfortable, edgy or awkward.

Last night there was a school reunion. It’s 35 years since I have left school! There was a free bar – courtesy of one of my peers and the reunion was close to where I live now. I gave it a lot of thought as to whether I should go. Without alcohol I can feel socially awkward, anxious and edgy. It’s not a nice feeling. I weighed up how likely I was to feel like drinking, how easy it would be to resist and planned what I could drink, and how I could leave. In the end I met a couple of past friends in the afternoon for tea and cake, and the bolstered by that and knowing that at least one would be at the evening event , I attended. It was fine, no urges to drink – although I ate a lot of chips ! 

today is day 86, EIGHTY SIX ! and I had to think about that. I realise I have thought about drinking a lot less in the last few weeks. Initially when I decided to stop I honestly thought about drinking every 5 seconds for days, even at times I would never previously have thought of it. Now I don’t; most of yesterday passed without me thinking ‘I don’t drink’ or ” Yay I’m sober’ or “I need wine” . i have thought all those things, but not continuously… It’s a relief as I was finding the constant pre-occupation with alcohol exhausting….

So, small steps forward. I attended a social event I would have avoided like the plague a month ago, and sailed through. Being sober, not drinking, is beginning to feel ‘normal’, and my DP, who has previously been supportive but carried on drinking, has decided to take a break. Today is his day 5

Happy Sober Sunday xx