Monthly Archives: September 2016

When Drink Isn’t The Answer

“The past is gone forever”

Dr Jean Kirkpatrick (founder of Women For Sobriety) believed this so strongly, that she made it one of the 13 commandments of W.F.S.

Clever lass, was Dr. Jean.

The past is gone forever. But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

Which makes it hard and scary to talk about.

I used to turn to drink for everything.

It was my default setting.

My cure-all.

The solution to every problem I had created in my life.

In the scheme of things, I hadn’t been a non-drinker for very long, when I became housebound and disabled.

This happened to me very quickly, and then took years to recover from it.

I still don’t know how to put this time into words, not properly.
Horror
Fear
Despair
Disbelief

Those are probably the things I felt most often.

Some days, for a few minutes at a time, I thought I would get my life back.

But for the first few years, I didn’t believe there was any hope for me at all.

Time slowed down so much. Minutes felt like hours. Literally hours.

The sheer relief when it got to 7pm was one of nicest emotions I felt, for years, because it meant that day was almost over and done with. 

I would hear the theme tune from Emmerdale floating up the stairs from my parents lining room (my full time carers, back then) and know that soon I could cross this wasted day I was experiencing, off the calendar. 
 
Metaphorically speaking, obviously, because my arms didn’t work, so I wouldn’t be performing any actual feats of manual dexterity.

Weirdly, I half loathe hearing it these days, and half still find it comforting.

Dark.

Those years just felt dark. Like I was living at the bottom of an empty well, and everyone else was wandering around above me, just getting on with their lives.

And I knew no one was ever going to come and rescue me. Because l had been told on countless occasions that no one had the right equipment.

Things were as hopeless as I have ever experienced.

There was nothing to do about it.

But I didn’t drink.

The thought never occurred to me, at any point, that drinking would or even could, make this situation better.

Which is madness, given that I had medicated everything with alcohol.

Anxiety

Anger

Tiredness

Sadness

Confrontation

Stress

You name, I drank at it.


There was never a moment of willpower, because it was crystal clear to me that alcohol had absolutely no place in my life.

Even though, let’s face it, I didn’t even have a life, to speak of, during these years.

I say these things to you, just in case you are doing what I did, for years, before I saw the truth:

Alcohol doesn’t have to be the default answer. We don’t have to think of it as a marital bedfellow to the bed things life throws at us.



We don’t have to see it as a reward, or a comfort.



It takes a really short amount of time to change our neurological responses to this belief, and once it’s done, it’s permanent.



I am pleased it never occurred to me to see alcohol as the answer, back in those dark, scary days. 

But I’m even more pleased that some of you will read this, and decide you don’t have to ever wait to be housebound and disabled to test this theory out.

You could do it today.

Right now.

And still get to live your life fully, in ways that I didn’t, for years.

That would make own my dark experience, worth it in the end.

Giving what we have, right now.


I went through a phase where I was obsessed with reading blogs.

I would spend hours on them everyday, pouring over other people’s lives who had things that I wanted.

I loved having an insight into how they had gotten to where I wanted to be.

I loved the pictures they would put up. They didn’t have to be great photos, or glamorous.

Just really normal snapshots into people’s days, visual and literary.

It didn’t take much for me to feel I could fully immerse myself into that other person’s life.

Some people didn’t even have what I wanted. 

It took me a while to figure out why they still appealed to me.

It became clearer as I got to know myself better, though.

They were always women that I gravitated to.

They always lived somewhere quite different to me.

And they were always happy & passionate people.

It didn’t matter if they were single, or married, had children or fur babies.

If I got a good “feel” from them, then I would love to spend hours poring over their insights and inputs into present life.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt keep saying it:

Stopping drinking gives you back time. A lot of time.




Nowadays I’m blessed with a shedload of time. 

And I really like using that time to give back, specifically in ways that helped me when I was struggling. 

It takes nothing to write a short blog piece, it’s something that can be done on the go, or whilst relaxing.

It’s something that everyone relates to in different ways, so everything you put out there will always be gratefully received by someone.

It’s a free resource that anyone can have constant access to.

And you can’t get it wrong.

If you are struggling with the sheer amount of free time that stopping drinking has given you, why not start your own blog.

It doesn’t have to be related to drinking at all. That’s where a lot of people fall down, in the days they are still thinking about alcohol all the time.

If I was at that stage, I would never have set this site up.

For me, this time around, eleven years ago, the world stopped drinking when I stopped drinking.






I don’t see it. I don’t register it when it’s there. Alcohol just isn’t in my field of vision these days.

So much so that I recently managed to give a webinar in front of thousands of women sitting in front of a fecking drinks cabinet.





In my own home.




Because I didn’t know I had a drinks cabinet in my own front room.




I had genuinely never noticed it before.
It was a bloody huge thing too. Floor to ceiling. I’ll stick a photo below and show you, it the huge creme thing in the corner.

Seriously 🙈

Because I don’t see alcohol anymore. I can talk about it from a purely solution-based point. 

And that is so satisfying and exciting. That’s the only reason I do it.

If I didn’t feel that way, I would blog about something else, something that excited me just as much.

There are so many people that are in dire need of upliftment. 

And we can all do that, in a myriad of ways, right now, with all of this extra time, that non-drinking has afforded us.

We can all give back, whilst helping ourselves. 

We don’t have to wait until we feel we are perfect at it.

We are of so much value to others, right now, where we stand.

Just by being ourselves and using the talents we have been blessed with.

We never need wait to be someone else’s inspiration.

It’s an instant gift.

Why not go make it your present?

The truth about the past 

I spend most of my day with music blaring into my ears.

Today, as I made my way into town, was no exception.

A song came on I haven’t heard for about ten years.

So long, that it took me right back to when it came out, which was at least 12 years ago.

Twelve years ago I was definitely drinking. 

I was definitely drinking a lot.
But that’s not what the song reminded me of.

Although it should have, because it was played constantly in clubs, at the time.

The song reminded me of being in my early twenties.

Of where I was living, which was a compound in the middle of nowhere.

Of who my friends were, the other people in their twenties who also lived and worked within the compound. 
A place where we were in the minority,  as all the other adults were far older.

Of the times we had together. Which wasn’t hard, because we spent all of our time there together. 

I recalled very rarely being alone back then. Because you are never alone in a tiny community. Someone is always nearby.

I did drink very heavily there. I did have horrible hangovers there.

I tried to “give up” drinking whilst I lived there, and failed horribly at least twice.

But it was none of the drinking regrets that the song brought back to me.

Nor should it have been. Despite alcohol playing a huge part of my life then. The central role, really.

Because the truth for me is the same truth that confuses so many people who can’t control their drinking and want to stop.

It’s not all bad.




The memories are not all bad.




We do still manage to create some nice memories, even during the chronic drinking.

We do still manage to break through the barrier, the walls of isolation that drinking brings, and manage to create friendships.

We can still do this, not because of alcohol, in spite of it.



But instead of holding on to this fact, as a testament of our emotional strength and durability.

We decide to lie about it to ourselves.
To see all the periods of our drinking lives as bad. All drinking as evil.

And all it does is create more delusions, that always lead back to drinking.

The real truth is that I hated the itch that came with drinking. And I hated myself when I drank. And I hated myself even more when I was hungover.

But I still had good moments. And it’s okay to acknowledge that. Because I have far more of them these days. Now I’ve finally understood that alcohol didn’t create those moments. I did.



The real truth is, alcohol wasn’t evil. It wasn’t brilliant either. It just was. It just is. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And getting mad at alcohol makes about as much sense as me getting mad at a table or chair. 

Instead of seeing it as something I choose to use, or not use. Knowing it will leave me alone, just like the furniture, if I choose not to use it.

I sifted through my happy memories that this song brought up, and basked in them for at least four minutes.

I did this knowing I always will whenever the past comes to visit now. Because I’m so attuned to feeling good, that it’s the emotional memory I always have the easiest access to.

Past or present. 

Then the song switched to more recent times.

And, effortlessly and accordingly, so did I.

Just another sunny afternoon 

It’s funny how quickly you get used to a non-drinking life.

So quickly, that it’s easy to take the small things for granted.

The weather was beautiful today. It was forecast to be the hottest September day ever, on record.

So, I decided to take the day off and my mum came to visit.

We went and played tourists in the sunshine. 

Ate a meal in a restaurant with the front fully opened up into the street so it felt like we were abroad.

I drank tea served to me in a dubious plastic beaker, for reasons I still don’t understand.

None of this I would have been capable of doing eleven years ago.

I would’ve been hungover when she got to my house.

Wouldve spent the entire day trying to disguise how shit I felt.

Been unable to eat any of the food we were served.

I would’ve spent my entire day with her trying to mask the constant panic attacks I’d have been having.

Instead of engaging in conversation, and taking in the beautiful day around me, I would’ve been engaged in battle with myself.

Trying to resist the urge to drink at lunch to get myself straight and lessen the hangover.

Then trying to ignore the horrible itch the drink had given me. For more and more.

I would’ve been rushing her out of the door when we got home, so I could sit and drink the, (self-made) stresses of the day away.

Instead of having a (proper, non-dubious) cup of tea, and more chats when we got home.

When you add them up, it’s days like these, that change the course of a life.

That change our relationships with the people around us.

Finally, finally, being capable of sitting in front of someone you love, and actually being there, 100%, instead of just going through the motions whilst secretly wishing the day away.

It’s like you are saying to them, without words; “I’m here, I’m interested, tell me things, I’m listening” and genuinely meaning it.




I take these things for granted now. Being happy, being comfortable, being present.

Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do.

Doesn’t mean I don’t know what a deliberate miracle it is that I got here though.

Doesn’t mean I’m not constantly thankful, on some subconscious level.

It just means I’m secure enough in this non-drinking life to expect it.

Because I know it’s never going to stop being like this.

And I’m very grateful for that knowledge.

 Come rain or shine.

Stopping drinking alone 


Not to be confused with drinking alone, which we are all fucking experts at. 

Obviously. Or we wouldn’t be reading or writing blog posts like this, would we?

When we make the decision to stop drinking, very few of us stick to it.

And that is totally understandable. 

If we had those tools to hand, we would have stopped drinking the moment something bad or scary happened to us whilst drunk.

We would have stopped after the horror of the first blackout.

We would have switched to orange juice after the first argument with a partner.

There would have been no more drinking after the first drink-related injury.

I didn’t do that. I definitely wasn’t able to do that.

And if you are reading this, then you weren’t able to either.

Not being able to stop drinking on our own is not a sign of failure.

It’s not even a sign of addiction.



We live in a society absolutely saturated with alcohol.

Drinking is our default setting.

We don’t get a chance to choose not to drink.

It’s a rite of passage.

So very few people see non-drinking as an option.

And even fewer have the tools to hand to stop drinking after years of doing it through sheer habit.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for instructions to assist in stopping drinking.

It’s no different from having a driving instructor.

There is genuinely no need to keep drinking until we have a full-blown addiction to alcohol.

Yet-again-in our society, we are told to keep drinking until there is a definite problem.

Which is absolutely fucking ridiculous advice.

GP’s send people away from surgeries because they aren’t drinking enough to need medical attention.

Doctors send folk away from rehab centres because they aren’t physically addicted to alcohol yet.




Being actively encouraged to drink to the point of physical and mental crisis is sad. It’s so sad that I can’t bring myself to go into why things are this way, so I’ll do it next time, when the thought of it doesn’t make me cry.

For now, all I really want to say is that it doesn’t have to be that way.




That if I had my time over again, I would never have waited as long as I did to stop drinking.

Though yes, I’m aware that 25 is quite young in the scheme of things, it didn’t feel it at the time.

I let it drag on for years, the horrible way I was living.

The absolute self-loathing.

The dangerous situations I put myself in.

And I only did it, because I knew no better.

If I had my time again, the first thing I would do is stop spending my money on booze, and give it to anyone who claimed they would help me.

Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t do that.




Because when I was in a wheelchair, it was the first thing I did.




I gave all the money I had to anyone who claimed they could help me.

Some were full of shit, obviously.

But some treatments really worked.

And they were all a step in the right direction.


But for some reason, when it came to stopping drinking. I refused to pay for help.

Actually, not “some reason”. The real reason was I always lived in motto fear of there not being enough money for drink.

It’s why I never spent money on anything else.

So I can’t have been that interested in stopping drinking at all.

Not the first few times I tried, anyway.

There are hundreds of people who say they can stop people from drinking.

And every single one of them, no matter how much they cost, are still cheaper than getting pissed every night for the next few decades.




Don’t get me wrong, I would still insist on seeing feedback from people they have worked with.

I would ask around and gauge their reputation, very carefully, before parting with hard earned cash.

But a refusal to pay for help, is a massive indicator that we would rather save the money, just in case we need it for drink.

And if that’s the case? It will always get spent on drink.




We all deserve the best chance at non-drinking. We all deserve to live a life filed with happiness, security and peace.

And nowadays, I personally have no problem paying the right people to make sure that happens.

So, if you are doing it alone, and finding it a struggle, why not have a look around and see who is out there that you feel drawn to?

There are so many people that could be helping you as soon as this week.
And then who knows where you could find yourself the week after?

Just remember a few key points:

•do your research. If they are a charlatan, the Internet will tell you in a matter of seconds.
•don’t give anyone money until you feel they can be 100% trusted.
•make sure they have genuine testimonials.
•better than that, ask your friends in recovery for word-of mouth-recommendations. Nothing is better than that.
•make sure the price they quote you for their services is inclusive of everything. No add-on’s. No need for more sessions than they originally quoted you for.
•ask them to be very clear about the progress they expect you to make within the timeframe you will be hiring them for.
•never trust anyone who tells you their way is the only way. Or That something awful will happen if you don’t do it their way. This is just scaremongering, pure and simple. And it’s never true.

Happy searching!
Cxx

Why I love healing, despite being as spiritual as a toaster…


I got some healing done this week.
Like anyone who works with people, one-to-one, quite intensely. I need to make sure that I’m looking after myself emotionally too, or I’m no use to anyone.

If you know me, which you probably do, if you’ve been knocking about here for a while, then you know I’m about as spiritual as a toaster.

I ended up going for my first healing session accidentally, because the lady who does it for me was a guest on a show I used to do, and I loved her, and wanted to support her new business venture. 

I expected it to be weird. 

It was. At first.

Having someone lay their hands over me and do some chanting malarkey, it was way out of my comfort zone.

But it was nice too. 


It felt really lovely when I got settled into it.

Sort of comforting. Like being wrapped in a warm duvet.

Which is how I would’ve felt about drinking, if the warm fuzzy feeling hadn’t always been accompanied by an incessant itch for more and more booze.

The itch always spoiled the warm fuzzy feeling. Massively.

I don’t miss the itch for drink at all.
Anyway, it felt nice, but I didn’t expect it to actually change anything.


It did though. It changed my body and mind. But it also changed my perspective.


Having worked very hard to stay out of a wheelchair permanently, having to work this hard on a daily basis to keep doing so, I was reluctant to let someone else come in and help me with healing in any form.

Healing, like walking again, felt like it should be an inside job that only I must be responsible for.
But I was wrong.

Have healing sessions did make me feel better. 

Whether it was because I was sad, or lonely, or in pain from the constant physical rehabilitation, it always made me feel better.

I don’t have it for any of those reasons now. I have it because of maintenance, because I want to keep feeling good.

I have it because prevention is better than cure.

And to reinforce the importance of letting other people be a part of me staying well.
It’s not always about me being in charge.
A solo-effort feels very one-dimensional to me these days.

Far better to have variety, provided by sources I trust.

Healing works for me. It relaxes me, which is something I’m not naturally good at.

It forces me to be still, when I’d otherwise probably be running around after other people.

Most important to me, it makes me better at my job. It makes me a better version of myself, all round.

Which has a positive knock-on effect for everyone in my life.

I found it difficult to marry the two together at first: my totally unspiritual leanings, and the quite spiritual form this method of healing takes.

But then I realised that I was using labels to limit myself.

And that’s something I endeavoured to leave behind years ago, along with the drinking.

If you’ve never had a healing session before? Try it! It’s something new, and new things take all of us further away from old drinking habits.

If it’s for you? Then excellent! You’ve gone and found a new string to your mom drinking bow.

If it’s not for you? still excellent. Because you’ve found a new strong personal preference.

And people who have strong personal preference? They know themselves.

And people who Know themselves don’t fall victim to alcohol abuse anymore.

It’s About Time.


I had fancy ideas about what a non-drinking life would be like. Back when I was a drinker that wanted to stop drinking.

Perfect. Obviously.

would be perfect. Because I would look Perfect. 


My life would be perfect. 

I had no real ideas beyond perfection. But perfect was the aim.

Everyone would look at me and proclaim how perfect my life was.




And because my life was perfect? 
Everyone would like me and want to be my friend,
And I would always feel showered with love and acceptance,

Then I stopped drinking. Actually properly stopped. Not just for a few days or weeks at a time, only to start again.
Proper stopped.

And I discovered the truth.
Stopping drinking has nothing to do with being perfect, or looking perfect, or having people like you.

Stopping drinking permanently, does one thing, and one thing only.

It gives you time.



The time you used to spend drunk?

You get that back.

The time you used to spend hungover?
You get that back too.

The hours everyday spent on obsessing over never drinking again?

The days spent filled with thoughts of self-loathing?

All those hours and days, are given back. 
That’s a lot of time to suddenly have on your hands.



None of us know what to do with all that time.

It’s a dreadful thing to have to bear alone,

All that extra time. Time to sit and regret all the stupid things we’ve done.

Time to feel how lonely we are. Time to observe all those happy people who know how to handle time, and feel shit about ourselves because we can’t be a grown up like they are.

That’s why so many of us go back to drinking.




It doesn’t have to be that way.

Learning how to turn those extra joys into an ally, instead of an enemy, is one of the corner stones my non drinking life is based on.

Showing women how to do that too, now that I’ve learned this skill myself, is one of the most rewarding part of my job.

And the best part is that it has absolutely nothing to do with drinking or non drinking.




And everything to do with just living a normal life. A life without labels.




But you don’t need me to do that. You can get that sort of help from any type of life coach or performance coach, or what-have-you.

So if you feel there is a stigma for you, in getting help from someone who works in the alcohol or addiction sector? 

If you feel that label is too much for you to bring into your life?

That’s okay, you can still benefit from help without going down that road.
Just go and speak to someone who coaches people and is good with managing their time.

It’s definitely better than struggling on your own, out of fear of being labelled a person with a drink problem.

It’s certainly better than wasting yet more days, weeks, months or years or your life by trying to tackle this thing on your own, when you already know from experience that it doesn’t work.

Isn’t it about time to stop being scared of time?

The type of Isolation that actually works in non-drinking 

I used to be great at “giving up” drinking.

I would have a tried-and-tested method that I used all the time. On a loop.

I had to use it all the time. On a loop. Because it wouldn’t last long. I would start drinking again, so I would need to use the method. Over and over again.

Maybe you’ve used it too? It went a little something like this:

•drink lots and lots. Do something even more dangerous and frightening and humiliating than usual 

•have this something I’ve done be followed by a particularly scary, anxiety-ridden hangover. Even worse than the usual ones.

•be so terrified that I was convinced the fear of my actions and feelings would definitely scare me sober this time.
•spend all waking moments at work thinking about not drinking.

•hide away alone and isolate myself all the hours of the day I didn’t have to work.

•become so bored and lonely and sad that eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and start drinking again. Just so I would have something to do.

There were countless problems with this equation. So many, that the method of permanent non-drinking I teach, is built on foundation of doing the polar opposite of how I used to do things when I failed at “giving up” drinking.

But you don’t have to follow my method to see more success in your own method of stopping drinking.

Even just adding a few simple weapons to your own arsenal of non-drinking will help make all the difference, long-term.
So here is a tip, from me, to you, to help you on your way this week:

If you are using the isolation method to stop yourself drinking, just like I used to, back in the days of unsuccessful “giving up” drinking.




Then make sure you are at least getting some results, by making sure you are isolating in the most useful way.




And the most useful is not sitting the house alone, but still spending hours observing everyone on Facebook or Twitter. Scoping out their timeline to see what a great time they are apparently having.




Doing this just compounds this feeling of loneliness that we haven’t managed to Eradicate just yet.




Instead, stop being an observer of social media. At all.




Take Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Off your phone.




Watching other people from the outside, just gives us a warped perspective. Because an observer can never tell what another person is feeling from the inside.




A snapshot into someone’s life is never accurate. It’s just enough for us to project how we think they are feeling. And we always pick the scenario that will make us feel the worst.




Because that scenario can then be used as ammunition to let ourselves start drinking again.




You want to stop drinking? Really and truly? 

Start seeing friends face to face, for an hour at a time. Somewhere interesting.
Stay off social media. Not permanently. Just until the face to face meetings really start to fill the loneliness gap.

Being picky about the company we keep leads to long lasting, fulfilling non-drinking.

Hiding away and spending hours every day observing warped, inaccurate Windows into other people’s lives via their social media timelines, is a guranteed way back to drinking.

Try it for a week. See how much better you feel. The sheer relief it brings.
Then decide if you like it enough to try some more of the slightly different, non-drinking methods  out there…



Waiting for permission to stop drinking 

I never knew who I was, when I was a drinker.

I had no genuine personal preferences.

No solid opinions.

I took absolutely anyone else’s advice, over my own instincts. Because I would never have trusted my own inner guidance.

And it was this lack of faith and trust in myself. 

This inability to recognise who I really was, and what I really wanted.

That kept me drinking, long after I wanted to stop.

I was waiting for someone to give me permission to stop drinking.




I didn’t think my giving my own permission, was worth anything.

But nobody ever gave me permission. Because it doesn’t work like that.




The only person who can ever give us permission to be ourselves, is us. 

Because nobody can tell from the outside, how our drinking feels from the inside.

Even if we do manage to find the right words to tell them.

Which is something I could never do properly.
Permission isn’t going to be granted. Not from the outside.

Not just because some people have a vested interest in keeping you drinking, so that they can keep drinking, because they want company whilst they are waiting for permission, too.

But because drinking is like everything else in life; it’s up to us to find out where we really belong, and what we should be doing.

We don’t ask other people to find us the perfect job, or ideal relationship. These are things that only we know feel right or wrong.
The only way we ever find out perfect match is to take personal responsibility for getting it done.

Waiting for someone else to decide if we should stop drinking or not, is asking someone else to decide who we are.
If you are a non drinker? Then be one. 
Become one, today.

Don’t wait for life to decide what you can be. It’s a waste.

And spending one more minute not being who we truly are, is one more minute that we never get back.

Give yourself permission.

Do it today.
Because you could wait years more, if you decide that someone else has to do it for you.

Monday Mornings

Monday mornings are a funny one to describe these days.

They used to be about coping.

Coping with a hangover.

Coping with trying to keep the thoughts of another horrible weekend and what I had probably done, at bay.

Coping with faking happiness at work.

Then fighting with myself, when the hangover symptoms eased off enough for the self-loathing to set in.

Fighting the urge to run away and hide and give into the incessant anxiety attack a the hangover brought with it.

Fighting the urge to obsess over another wasted weekend, and how my entire life was passing me by.

And, or course:

Fighting the urge to do it all again, later that day.

Monday mornings are so peaceful now.
I have a weekend full of lovely experiences to look back on.

I have a week of great things to look forward to.

And I like what I’m doing right now, in the present.

Monday morning are no longer wasted wishing the day away, so my hangover will recede.

Or wishing my life away, by obsessing over drinking or non-drinking.

And if any of the former descriptions are true for you this morning?

Then don’t waste another moment in despair. 

This can be the day you turn it all around.
This can be the day you decide to say goodbye to Monday Morning despair.

There are hundreds of different ways to stop drinking a life away.

Today is a great day to find the way that works for you xx