Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Forum Post that scared me sober

When I was trying to “give up” drinking. You know, doing it with the mindset that it was a sacrifice, the world was quite a different place. 

Facebook was yet to turn up on the scene. Twitter was a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. People were still instant messaging eachother, and texting on non-smart phones.

If you wanted to use the internet you did it from a pc or laptop. Chat rooms were still quite big back then too.

Anyway, I used to go on my laptop and peruse a forum that was absolutely nothing like what’s available today. Not just because technology wasn’t what it is now, back then. But because the mentality and mindset and feel of the place was a totally different experience. 

Some people on there were lovely. Some were very not. All were as lost as I was. And it was this feeling of being lost which had us all bound together. Clinging to each other for guidance. 

There was a very strict code of conduct we had to adhere to. Not just in behaviour, but in belief. This forum had a very strict dogma. And you followed this doctrine, or you f*cked off. 

It was that simple.

We would all post mainly the same thing. We would try to “give up” then sh*t would happen. Then we would get mad and drink “at” something. Then we’d go on the forum and post about it, and everyone would get mad at us because we weren’t following The Rules properly.

All conveniently forgetting that none of could actually follow these Rules properly. 
It just happened to not be us that messed up that particular day. 

Then everyone would get in a fight. 
Figurative fists would fly. Everyone would get upset. Those that turned belligerent would be accused of “posting under the influence”. 

Nothing really changed that often. But I still went back, because there were no decent forums. Or blogs really. So it was that or nothing. 

And I was too lonely to choose no advice over second rate advice. 

A shy woman in her very early forties would post quite frequently. She suffered badly from post traumatic stress disorder and it would always drive her back to binge drinking sessions. 

She would do well for a few months at a time. Sometimes up to 6 months in the past. But then the terrors would set her off again.

She had been sober for 8 weeks, but then disappeared from the forum for 10 days. I don’t think anyone really noticed, but she came in one evening and said she knew it had been 10 days because she had been on a 10 day bender.

As she was writing you could feel the shame coming off her in waves. She was disgusted with herself. She had blacked out a lot. Drank in and out of the house. She was very upset because she hadn’t been paying her cat the attention he deserved.

This post was filled with the need for atonement. But it ended on an almost jubilant note. Because THIS was the time. She was just so fed up of living like this. She KNEW change was coming. She could FEEL it. She hadn’t even drank that evening because she was so certain it was going to be the first day of the rest of her life.

She was so confident that she had phoned her dad and asked him to come over in the morning and pick her up so she could go stay with her parents and start the process properly with extra emotional support. She was so ready for her new life to begin.

We got an update from her the next morning.

Except it wasn’t from her.

It was from her pensioner dad.

Who had let himself in to his daughter’s flat.

Then found she had died in her sleep.

Nothing has ever hit me as hard as this did. Even to this day, nothing has had the same effect on me.

Not a single incident in life has hit with with the crystal clear clarity that this poor woman’s death did
This sh*t kills people.

It kills with literally no warning.

It kills people like me, so it could kill me.

 

It could do it right now.

There’s only one way to stop this game of Russian roulette happening. 

Everyone on the forum lost their minds. I’ve never experienced mass fear like it. Hundreds of woman all losing it. 

At each other. 

At themselves.

At the demon drink who had caused this death and subsequent fear. 

It was too much for me. I didn’t go on again after that. But I took the reality check that it gave me, and I ran with it.

The truth is that many woman can have no external indicators of how much trouble their body is in after chronically abusing alcohol. It is a game of chance. 
Some women die in their sleep. Some just keel over and do it at the table. None know it is coming.

We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge this truth. To take control. To stop being sad statistics on forums and websites.
To pull the blinkers from our eyes and admit this this is real. That this could happen to us to.

And then join forces, shoulder to shoulder, and do something about it. 

Live a full, fear-free life.

To keep living

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Why don’t you drink now?

  
It’s easy enough for most people to understand why a person who feels powerless around alcohol would want to be a non-drinker. 

Eleven years ago I was definitely one of those people.

I’m not now. I haven’t been for many, many years.

I don’t feel like alcohol is more powerful than me. I don’t feel like I have an alcohol problem now. I never think about it. Even when people ask me drinking questions, (this happens pretty much all day every day) I don’t connect to it emotionally.

That struggle is done for me. It’s over. It won’t be back.

When I say this, I’m always surprised by the question that routinely follows:

Why don’t you drink now?


It made absolutely no sense to me for the longest time I heard it. Because I had forgotten a very important part of my own journey. The question that used to go around my head constantly whilst I was struggling with the very idea of stopping drinking:

Would I ever get to the day where I could just drink a little? Surely I wouldn’t have to stop for the rest of my life?


I had completely forgotten how it felt to see stopping drinking as the ultimate sacrifice. How it seemed like I would be living a life that was drab and monotonous. I felt the only way I could get through would be to envisage a time where I could drink just a little. Because even a little bit of excitement would be better than a drab, totally sober life.

I’d forgotten about feeling that way because I was incredibly wrong. My thinking was totally off. It did take a while for the scales to fall from my eyes. But when they did? I felt the truth of what a life without alcohol actually meant

  • Having a life full of variety
  • Making incredible connections with other people
  • Liking the way I looked
  • Finding new interests that actually fully engaged me
  • Falling in love. Proper love
  • Communicating amazingly well with everyone
  • Feeling really excited 
  • Taking an interest in my appearance
  • Deliberately deciding how to feel
  • Earning proper money

Those are just a few. But they were the strongest discoveries I felt myself making. Really strong ones that still fill me with wonder today.
Conversely, these are the things I gave up. The things that never returned:

  • Feeling out of control
  • Living in a constant state of panic
  • Looking like a wallflower
  • Feeling invisible all the time
  • Being filled with seething resentment
  • Feeling ugly
  • Hating myself
  • The itch 1 drink gave me that 20 could not satisfy.

The last one is the most important of all. I itched constantly. For a decade. I didn’t realise how abnormal it was, this incessant itching that drinking caused me. Constant cravings for more and more. I assumed it was something everyone felt. So when it went away and stayed away, by doing nothing more than stopping drinking? I couldn’t believe the relief I felt.

You could take away every positive non drinking has ever given me. You could bring back into my life every negative that dissolved as a non drinker. I’d cope with them all. Everything except  the itching. The feeling of having never had enough. I will never, ever stand for such a feeling in my life again. Nothing is worth that.

I had absolutely no clue that these are the things I would experience as a non drinker. I had no idea that I would cultivate such an indifference to alcohol that I would never think of it or feel it’s absence again. But that’s what happened. My life filled up with great things. The bad things went away. It was just that simple.
I’m horrified that I ever lived my life with this constant itch, that I thought it was normal. 

But I’m even more horrified that I lived an average life for so long. There’s really no excuse for it. Except I didn’t know any better. Didn’t know how life was actually supposed to feel.

I would never go back to living the average life my drinking self lived. That’s why I don’t drink now. Not because alcohol is more powerful than me.

But because I abhor the feeling of living an average existence. Something even a sniff of alcohol would bring rushing back into my life.

Can I really become a non-drinker in a month?

I get asked this question almost daily: 


Can I really become a non-drinker in a month?


It’s not something I should even claim to be able to answer from a personal perspective as someone who has been a non drinker for 11 years. How could I honestly sit here and tell you I know exactly how the one month mark feels after over a decade since being there?


I think we can all agree that it’s not somewhere I have been for a very long time.

But l do know a woman who can: One of my incredible ladies has written an account of becoming a non-drinker last month. Of why she knows doing it this way is different. Of how the process feels. Of what to expect.


I could never put it as well as she does. She is so inspiring to me. Her hard work to put these tools to work is beyond admirable.


I hope you enjoy her journey as much as I have enjoyed being a part of it this last month. I’m so excited that she can be an authentic example of inspiration to you and to me.


Carrie xx 

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I contacted Carrie when I was at a low. Although not physically dependent on alcohol, drink was robbing me of my self respect, dignity, creativity and health. I knew I wanted to stop, but I didn’t want a life that revolves around ‘abstinence’, ‘struggle’ and ‘denial’.

I haven’t had an alcoholic drink for 35 days. I had to look that up because I don’t feel the need to count days – I’m not serving a jail sentence! This is the longest period of time I’ve ever been sober (except for a period of serious illness a few years ago). It’s taken hard work, but has not been in any way painful or difficult. I don’t rely on willpower – with Carrie’s help and support, over the last month or so I’ve begun to build a life that is so much better, brighter and more joyful than before. So much so that booze no longer feels necessary. I genuinely don’t want it, which feels like a miracle.

I worked with Carrie for a full month, talking via Skype for an hour once a week. We packed a huge amount into every session – I have a notebook full of notes I managed to take. Just as important though was her email support. I emailed Carrie every day, letting her know how I was getting on, how I was feeling, asking questions. Her responses were always thoughtful, supportive and personal. She even emailed me when she was on holiday. On her birthday.

I learned that I am responsible for, and have the ability to change, my moods. We explored many tools, some of which resonated with me (appreciation/EFT/visualisation) while some didn’t (meditation). Carrie’s approach is tailored to the individual – keep what works, discard what doesn’t.  

I learned to appreciate the beautiful little details in my life: a chat with the owner of the deli where I buy my lunch; caramel flavour coffee; the first sunny day of the year; a bunch of pink and white tulips. I think of appreciation as my superpower – it can change my mood instantly. I literally feel my body relax as I’m doing it.

So how else has my life changed? I’m richer. Not because I’ve saved money by not drinking – Carrie is very clear that money not spent on alcohol should be spent on lovely life enhancing things! I’m making more money because without alcohol I have the energy and focus to build up the tiny business I set up as a ‘side-gig’ last year and had been neglecting ever since.

I’ve found that situations where I usually relied on drink to give me confidence are actually easier without it. I’ve been to dinner parties, restaurants and even a fancy cocktail bar and enjoyed every minute. I’ve been astonished to find that I’m actually funnier/wittier/better company sober!

So am I ‘cured’ or ‘recovered’. Not quite. I find the day to day ridiculously easy, but I still have moments when my subconscious tries to bargain with me (maybe I could only drink on special occasions?) or I find the future overwhelming (no Champagne at my wedding? No sangria on holiday?). The difference is that now these are occasional flashes rather than an all consuming preoccupation and I have the tools to deal with them.

Working with Carrie had been life changing. She just gets it. She’s not a doctor or a counsellor or a therapist – she’s one of us. She’s figured out the recovery thing and because she’s generous and kind she wants to share what she knows. She made me feel that my success was not only possible but inevitable.