Thursday, 28 March 2013

Still Trucking

Once again... it's been a while.  I often contemplate whether I should continue writing here or just stick with my personal journal... but then I stop by and see how many people read what I write and realise there is something about being heard that works for me.  So here I am.

It dawned on me the other day that I am now 7 months sober.  I can't believe how the time is just ticking along.  I never would've imagined life would be like this.  It's funny how I thought I would always miss alcohol and how that loss would always be something I had to deal with... and it isn't even remotely like that.  In the first month or so, for sure it was.  It was a loss, my booze, my buddy that has been there with me through everything.  An occasion wasn't an occasion without it - I had no idea how to celebrate without alcohol.  Or how to commiserate or deal with problems without it.  But turns out, I am learning.

The thing is, the good things that I notice are not things I even thought about before.  I remember when I was thinking about quitting, when I knew I had to but was too scared to let go of this 'friend', this coping mechanism of mine...  I remember scouring the Internet trying to find out what people felt after quitting, what the good things were.  At the time I could only see the loss I would feel when giving it up.  But I knew for sure at least the overwhelming guilt I felt in the mornings would be gone, so that was enough to try.

So here is what I would've liked to have known over 7 months ago when I knew it was time to quit, but wasn't sure what the benefits were.  This is a note to myself back then, but any of you who are trying to do the same, maybe it will help ...

The first thing I have to say is how much easier life is.  That's right.  I always thought alcohol helped me cope.. but in fact, I think it just made things harder.  I think not only the obvious difficult of doing things hungover made things hard, but also the longer term effects alcohol had on my brain and my perception of the world.  It really scrambled my brain.  Like I now see why it was so hard for me to read a map.  It was so hard for me to remember things.  I always had to write everything down.  Recipes I made a hundred times, I'd still have to read every line, every time, because I would not actually know what was in it.  Now, I can easily understand directions, I can remember things - and not in the 'I'm not drunk' way but in the 'I just remember things without even trying' way.  I'm not sure if this makes sense, it's hard to describe to people who weren't addicted to alcohol how it feels to just have a scrambled brain... even if I didn't drink for days on end, it's just the way I thought I was.  But not at all!

It's actually easier to deal with stress.  Again, I expected this because I wouldn't be hungover all the time....  But it's more than that.  I mean I still have stress, and I still get really anxious, but I think it's easier because I deal with it at the moment.  Like getting the kids ready for school, I get really anxious, often to the point of there being a tightening in my chest. When I drank, I used to just take that stress and put it in my pocket for later - it was now my excuse to drink.  Instead of dealing with the stress in the moment, I'd say to myself  'Oh my god I can't handle this.. this is the reason why I drink.  I can't deal with this horrible feeling and the stress of having two young kids and trying to do all of this by myself!!  Arrrr' and then I'd have my reason to crack open the bottle at the end of the day.  Now, I take the time in that moment to realise how I feel.  I realise that I'm holding my breath and then I just release it.  Sound ridiculous?  It isn't.  I take a moment to just stop holding my breath and just breathe.  And it feels better.  And I tell my kids that I need a moment.  Why not?  It's teaching them that it's ok to listen to your body, what you are feeling, and how to deal with it in a healthy way - to use my own means to make myself feel better.

And then it's just the living life that's better.  Now I'm a more loving mother because I'm no longer primarily focused on when I will have my next drink.. no longer counting the hours til I can 'relax'.  Now I'm actually the kind of mother I wished I could be and never thought was possible.  I still get stressed, tired, overwhelmed... but I also can just look at one of my children and feel this surge of love and just think 'oh my god you are so cute!'.  And mean it. 

And I have time to focus on things I love.  Cooking, sewing..... trying to find healthier meals that the whole family will enjoy.  I have been working with a 'business growth specialist' to grow my business.  And I work on improving my life.  This is something I've always done, but think I only couldn't gone so far while I was drinking.  The next thing is I am going to start working on my sugar addiction.  I seem to have turned to sugar after coming off alcohol.. never thought I had a sweet tooth but seems all the wine either satisfied the sugar wants or it created them after I quit!

I hope this helps... anyone else who wants to share some of the benefits of living sober please do!  I love to hear it.. I know there are many more benefits but these are ones right off the bat that I think of that never would've occurred to me when I was drinking.  But they make life so much better.  If you are thinking about quitting, or have recently quit drinking, I hope this helps you to see some of the light at the end of the tunnel - and it doesn't take long to start reaping the benefits!

(I feel that I need to add that if you are addicted to alcohol, please see a health care professional before you start coming off.  I didn't realise I was addicted and needed to wean off alcohol to make sure I didn't suffer any risk to my health)

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say I read through all of your blog and empathized with it quite a lot. I'm a single, 27 year old guy, so in many ways I'm sure we are worlds apart, but much of what you have said about your struggle with alcohol I completely and totally understand. I hope that one day I can make it to 7 months like you have!