40th Birthday Celebrations – Day 737

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I’m just back from a trip to the Lake District here in the UK. It was my 40th Birthday last week and I have been planning a short trip away to celebrate the significant day.

2 years ago when I quit drinking I couldn’t think about my 40th birthday without wanting to celebrate it with an insane amount of alcohol. I always thought either I’d have cracked the whole being sober thing or I’d be back drinking again by now.

Well, since I’m happy and sober I wanted to mark my 40th year by doing something I’d remember, an achievement of sorts, so I planned a trip to the beautiful Lake District to climb the Via Ferrata. I have no real climbing experience, but I have a head for heights and this is especially designed for the novice.

Out of the 12 people who came to celebrate my birthday (mixture of friends and family) 7 of us did the climb. It felt amazing, though scary at times but doing it felt like such an achievment, like I was alive and I’ll never forget it.

After the climb most of us had a nap and then prepared to meet the rest of the group in a local pub near by. I was a little weary that this part of the trip may have been a bit dull for me. Most of my friends are heavy drinkers (like i was). They all know I don’t drink anymore so I wasn’t worried about that but I’ll be honest I thought it might have been boring.

However, it was great! I used the time to properly catch up with them all. I didnt care it was in a pub. Its just an easy place to meet up I guess. As it was my birthday the attention was more on me and how I was and that was okay. After a few hours we went for food and spent an age in the restaurant (which is my favourite place to be) laughing and catching up over old times.

I have made some memories this weekend which I will treasure forever. I was humbled by the number of friends that wanted to be there with me to celebrate my birthday. No one cared that I wasnt drinking. I think a few people just never noticed either.

I can honestly say that if I was still drinking, this weekend would never have happend.

The very best bit was waking up this morning with a smile on my face, happy to be alive while nearly everyone else was suffering from a few too many celebratory drinks 😂😂😂😂

Im feeling pretty darn good…….

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S.A.D – Day 711

Come on spring where are you? Im sure I suffer a little from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I’ve been up and down for the past few months. One minute, I want to be left alone, hibernate, can hardly muster up the energy to do anything. Then the next minute I’m pissed off I never go anywhere or do anything fun! I cannot win eh.

My anxiety is pushing back. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by things that don’t usually bother me. Kids school commitments and finding a new hairdresser (god, talk about first world problems.) Sobriety wise, things are good. Getting sober is still the best thing I have ever done. I do not doubt my decision to be sober. However, as I near my two year anniversary I am wondering why my mood and anxiety has got worse. Is it just the winter blues? The first 6months of my sobriety was terrible, cravings wise and anxiety wise, then things started to get better, I tackled all my sober firsts and I felt strong both in my sobriety and my mental health!! However, I now feel like my anxiety is moving back in –luckily this does not make me want to drink but I feel like I need to do something for my mental health. The only problem is when my mood plummets it just makes me feel like doing nothing argh! Here’s hoping spring and summer will bolster my mood and lift me out of my winter funk – If I do one thing this week it will be to get outside my head by blogging more and get outside my house by walking more…. Okay that’s two things….x

Day 669 – I’m whole again.

Well, he’s back. My anxiety was up and down all week. Not helped by my daughter falling out with one of her school friends part way through the week. However, on Saturday we picked my son up from the airport and I feel whole again.

I think we have all learned something from this experience. My Son has gained more independence and a skiing badge! My Daughter has learned that she does miss her big brother after all (and how to make up, when she falls out with her friends). My husband and I have both learned that for all we missed our son terribly we survived and we can rely on each other for moral support and I learned that I can sit with uncomfortable feelings as long as I remember to use my sober tools.

Drinking over this experience would have been a disaster. My anxiety would have been worse. I would have retreated into myself and would not have sought emotional support from my husband. I would not have been present to help my daughter with her friendship drama and most of all I would not have grown as a person and I’d be less capable of dealing with the situation next time. Not to mention going back to day 1.

I have exercised some serious sober muscle this past week and I’m feeling good.

Day 662 – dealing with uncomfortable feelings

My son left on Saturday for one week, in France on a school skiing trip and I’m finding it difficult to say the least. I have sat many times over the weekend with uncomfortable feelings of loss and anxiety. I worry that he is okay and enjoying himself.  In fact I have a massive list of things I’m worried about, are his friends treating him well, does he like the food, is he okay working with Euro’s instead of Pounds, has he lost any ski kit, has he got a blister, is he drying his kit properly and is he warm enough on the mountain or has he fell off the mountain!  I could go on….. I’m not worrying constantly but several times a day it just hits me like a punch in the stomach.

All that been said, I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m thrilled he has gone and this will be an amazing experience for him and I know he’s more likely having the time of his life.

I don’t like feeling this way though and at 662 days I thought I’d dealt with most situations that id normally drink over. I don’t want a drink nor am I craving a drink but I recognise that I would have definitely drank over all these feelings. I would have ‘coped’ by drowning a bottle or 2 of wine so I didn’t have to worry about my boy. So why no huge cravings? I think it is because I truly believe that it would solve nothing. hallelujah the penny has dropped!  I know I’d feel terrible the next day, my worry and anxiety would be worse so id end up drinking again. My daughter, would have a rubbish time while her brother was away as I wouldn’t be present enough to make this time fun for her. But most importantly I realise that by drinking and not dealing with these feelings now I’d be creating a much bigger problem for the future.

So, my plan is, don’t drink; deal with my uncomfortable feelings now;  grow as a human being and as a mother, so in the future I will have the strength to deal with similar experiences and emotions.

I understand, that this is easier said than done. I have done things to help myself. I have taken some time out to write on my blog which I have neglected over the past months, I have ate a few more ‘treats’ than usual,  I had a nanna nap (afternoon snooze) as I recognised id only feel worse if I got too tired and I’ve talked to my husband, who obviously is feeling the same way because what im feeling is perfectly normal.  I could also add if I needed, going for a long walk, organising an activity or meet up with friends to distract myself, attend an AA meeting, have an early night or go shopping!

These may all sound like little things to do but I have learned that they work for me. I have to be careful not to underestimate the importance of doing these little things because experience has taught me that when life gets busy and I haven’t had time to talk to my husband, take that walk  or have that early night I’m desperate for; things become difficult, really difficult for me.  So, as I sit here with my perfectly normal but uncomfortable feelings, I remind myself that doing the little things help me cope with the bigger things in life.

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

Reflection – Day 590

Things are good here. Around this time last year I had just attended my first AA meeting. I am glad I tried AA.  I was already 7 months sober when I decided to go. At the time I was stuck in a rut and feeling a bit lonely in my sobriety and I am a big believer that you need to try new things/add things when you are feeling vulnerable.

I found listening to people share their stories really helpful and I went to AA religiously for about 2 months leading up to Christmas. It made me feel less alone and stronger. After a while though, it turned out it wasn’t for me. I realised I didn’t want to work the steps or have a higher power. The best thing about AA is, you can just take the bits you like. I can still pop in anytime I want to listen to people share. I am lucky that there is a large woman’s meeting on a Monday, where I can easily sit in the back and just listen if I want too. The thing is, I find I need to less and less but I always know it is there.

I am so pleased I tried AA last year as it will forever be in my tool box. So why am I talking about it now?  I guess I’m just reflecting on how far I have come, how different this November is compared to how I was feeling last November. I feel so much more settled in my sobriety and I have done so for a while now but this is because I try to do different things and add things when I need it. If you have been considering something new, be it AA, SMART recovery, cooking, walking or taking up abseiling – give it a go!  I find trying new things immensely helpful and can only view it as a positive experience, even if I don’t stick at it. . It doesn’t have to be anything big. Small changes are the best in my opinion. I hope you are all well.

Getting Out Of My Own Head – Day 542 

Today I needed to get out of my own head so I decided to write this at work.  I wasn’t going to publish it but it was how I was feeling at the time. Sometimes I just have dark days and writing helps, so why not publish it. I feel better even if I haven’t figured anything out. 

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Sometimes I do wonder how long I can stare at my monitors at work before someone will notice I am not actually working. There has to be more to my time on earth than this. I seem trapped by my own fear of change. I seek to have a straight forward life but then, when I have it in my grasps, I realise I am bored. How can someone be trapped between trying desperately not to get overwhelmed and wanting more? Is it just me? Has something gone wrong in my brain, did all my years of drinking stop me from evolving and figuring out what I want out of life?

I often wonder what my purpose is. I’m sure lots of people do. I am a mother and wife first (my family are the most important thing to me, period) I’m an employee, a sister, a daughter…. But these are all things that I am to someone else. What am I to me…… talk about co dependant…. I left home to move in with my then boyfriend, now husband. I adopted all his friends and have work at the same job for 20 years now. I have no identity of my own other than being a mother. I sew, but that was born from trying to leave my job not because I am passionate about sewing. I run, but this is mainly because I know exercise and being outdoors is good for my mental health and I can eat cake, but I have no aspirations to run a marathon. I read, this is my way to escape, especially since getting sober – sometimes some stories make me feel lacking in my own life, again this feeling of ‘what is my purpose’, ‘is this it?’ I really should stop reading trashy fantasy novels.

I think people view me as a strong, intelligent, good looking lady. However, my anxiety tells me I am not strong. I don’t think I am that smart, average maybe. The thing is, I’m good at saying or doing the right thing. I can act the part. Its just a front. Good manners and being nicely spoken makes people believe you are smart. I do believe I am good looking with a bit of makeup but that shouldn’t define me. So, what does a smart looking, nicely spoken, good mannered, averagely intelligent, nervous, fearful of change but wanting adventure, woman knocking 40 do?

 I know there is more, I can almost see it, but it seems just out of reach,  but I know it is there. I cannot go crazy and travel the world because of my kids. God if I could take Mr Mac and the kids and travel the world I’d be in heaven. Adventure but no responsibilities, perfect! I don’t want to feel like my life is standing still while the kids grow up but sometimes it feels like that. I want to find my purpose beyond being a mother because my biggest fear is that once they do fly the nest I’ll be more lost than ever. I’ll have no excuses. I’d be totally free to do what I like and absolutely no idea what to do. Will I ever work out what I want to do with my life?

I need routine – Day 518

Wow, we are coming to the end of the kids 6 weeks holidays here. It has been great, lots of family time, walking, camping and picnic’s etc… However, as much as I’ve loved our time off,  I have been feeling low recently, ‘can’t be bothered’ lethargic I guess. If i get out for a walk or into the fresh air with the kids I feel better. I couldnt work out why I was feeling like this especially when im on holiday, but then it hit me a few days ago…… I’m bored.

Im bored of looking after the kids, im bored of cleaning and cooking, packing picnics and thinking of days out to keep everyone happy. I feel like im doing everything for everyone else but nothing for me. This feeling reminds me of why I drank. I drank for some excitment in my life, I drank to escape the boring humdrum of raising kids, cooking dinners and generally picking up after everyone. I love my family and kids, I really do and I wouldn’t actually change a thing but sometime I feel like I lose a bit of who I am along the way.

I lost a lot of my own identity when I became a mum, being a mum consumed me, took up all my time and energy and it still does. I am a mum before anything else. My children are my world but sometimes I wonder who I am.. I honestly believe I drank to escape, it was my time out from being a mum. Drinking was my fun time, until it wasn’t fun anymore. So I am now wondering who am I… I feel like I have been on a life time out for the past 10 years. I need to start figuring out what I want to do, not just hang around waiting for what the kids need from me next. The biggest problem I have is that I havent the foggiest what I want.

That said, I know I will feel better when the kids go back to school and I return to work. Work isnt my favourite place. I kind of fell into my job and now I stick at it because it allows me to be part time and have the same holidays as the kids. But I will have more of an identity then, not just being a mum. There will be structure and routine to my day.

I will then count the weeks until we are on holiday again hahaha but somewhere in between I will think of what I want….

Update – I have just read my last post which was at the beginning of the holidays where I talked about the need for routines and some me time 😂😂😂😂 I’ve obviously not followed my own advice. I knew at week 1 I needed to plan some me time to survive these holidays and I did in week 1 – 3 Cinema night, day out with my girlfriends, camping trip.  However, by week 5/6 I have well and truly forgot to follow my own advice!!! 

Xxx

Summer Holiday Chaos- Day 483

Well week one of the kids summer holidays is nearly over. Good part is no work or school for 6 whole weeks, downside is how much I love my routines… which are non existent at the moment. I looked back at my blog posts from this time last year. I was just over 100 days and was struggling with my lack of routine then and I posted about the need for me to just go with the flow! 

I usually have a good life balance that works well for me. However, when the kids break up for the holidays, my balance is turned into chaos!  I do recognise that my kids can be a trigger for me (wow that sounds shitty) I think it’s because I forget my own self care when I’m with them 24/7 during the hols. I become chief carer, cook, cleaner, entertainer, referee… the list goes on. I’m planning on adding some me time into these holidays to restore the balance.

 I’m chilling on the sofa writing this on my phone while the kids are upstairs watching a movie. It just gives me some quiet in my head.  I’ve also have an afternoon catching up with friends tomorrow while Mr Mac watches the kids. I will be planning another catch up with friends later in the holidays for my sanity!

 I have also started joggging with my Son. We’re doing the Couch to 5k fitness app together. It’s great doing this with him. As a mum of a Tween, it’s nice to see him out his bedroom! 

We also had a family night at the cinema last night which was fun for all of us, the kids felt very grown up. We need to do more of this. It’s too easy to be stuck in the house on an evening. I need to add in a few date nights with Mr Mac and the balance will/can be restored!!! 

So Day 483, in short I’m feeling a bit out of sorts with my lack of routine but I recognise this and I’m putting things in place for a sober, happy summer holidays. Being sober has enabled me to understanding myself better and it has let me figure out what I need to do to be happy and a better me for everyone! X

Sober and Strong – Day 445

The warmer weather has arrived. This time last year I was about 80 days sober and had not long come back from my first successful sober summer holiday. I remember struggling with the whole warm weather/holiday/beer garden cravings and I had to exercise some serious sober muscles at the time to stay sober. I drank loads of AF beer, blogged and ate lots of chocolate to cope at the time.

This year by comparison, is sooooo much easier. I don’t miss it. I’m not worried I might drink on holiday, I’m not worried about being tempted by alcohol on a hot summers day.  I think this is partly due to being further away from day 1 and partly because I’ve been through that experience sober already. The sober firsts are definitely hard but honestly the next time is way easier. Hungover on a hot day sucks too!

Today has been a good day. I volunteered to help out at a work event this morning. I usually hate this sort of thing because I hate the unknown.  It will bring my anxiety on and I would spend the weeks leading up to the day trying to come up with excuses to get out of it. This time I felt stronger, still anxious but stronger. Several times leading up to the event, I would feel paniced, what is the venue like? who will I be working with? what will my role be??!?! Each time this happened, I kept telling myself it would be okay. Lots of people repeatedly volunteer to do this so it cannot be that bad and more importantly you know you will feel like shit if you don’t turn up.

I decided not turning up just wasnt an option.  I made a plan and felt calmer. My plan was, if it was shit, I would make an excuse and leave but I had to go first and try. Well, I went and it was fine, great in fact. I am so pleased i didnt shy off , I’m so proud of myself today.  This first time was hard. Battling against my  fear of the unknown, wanting to help but worried what it was going to be like. However, I now know next time will be way easier. My confidence has had a major boost.

I can honestly say that if I was still drinking I would not have turned up. After drinking to cope with the ‘stress’, my anxiety would have won; I would have made a last-minute excuse; dropped people in it, resulting in feeling guilty and totally disappointed in myself; which would have made me drink more. Im pleased im off that crazy train.

x

Back on Track – Day 413

Things have settled down again, phew. The ‘what if’s’ and ‘fuck it’s’ I had been feeling over the last few weeks have gone. I have the odd thought of “mmmm that looks nice” when I see someone on telly having a drink but I just laugh at myself. No lingering thoughts or cravings in any way.

Why was I romancing the alcohol the past few weeks? I don’t know. Analyzing it now, I guess I had a bad cough (which is unlike me) I had dropped a few exercise classes (my instructor moved to New Zealand) and I was generally feeling unhealthy. Could that have been it?? Was it PAWS or the fact that I reached my year milestone and needed another goal??? was it all of the above?

Well, what I do know is that my cough is largely gone, I have started a new Pilates class and I am curbing the amount of junk food I am eating and I feel rather healthy now. What I do know is that these feelings do pass and I need to remind myself of this in the moment. Which is easier said than done.

The Party Girl inside me was saited after a great afternoon, climbing through the tree tops the other weekend. Me and Mr Mac had a great time and it was such an adrenaline rush. Later that day we enjoyed an evening together (without the kids) I bought some AF wine, which is not like me but I think it was a way of coping with the real cravings I was experiencing back then.  The AF wine was okay but not great.  (I threw half of it away) It didn’t make me want the real thing, thank god.  I was happier with a juice.

Later, we went out for a meal. Hubby had a few beers but it didn’t bother me. I thought it might, considering how I was feeling but it didnt. I’m used to Mr Mac having a couple, he only ever has one or two, he says he just cannot drink anymore than that. (how strange  lol.)

Once we were in the cosy pub/restaurant, enjoying a nice meal, after our adrenaline fueled afternoon, it was the food and the company I was enjoying. Alcohol would have ruined it. We heading back to where we were staying and stayed up late drinking coffee, eating chocolate and watching a movie together. That night while I was snuggled up with Mr Mac, in food coma, I realised that I was happy and made peace again with my sobriety.