Tag Archives: 100 day challenge

Cleaning and complaining

I’ve been in bad mood these past few days. I feel really, really annoyed about not being able to drink. The pink clouds have gone. Although I’ve been focused on the 100 day challenge, in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted this to be a more permanent decision. Suddenly, the idea of not drinking ever again is depressing.

The weather is great and the rest of the world is sunbathing in beer gardens. I hate them. I turn on the TV and everyone is opening bottles of white wine. Two friends got married last weekend and Facebook is awash with pictures of them clutching glasses of champagne.

As someone who doesn’t have a boyfriend, never mind a potential husband, maybe it is a little ridiculous to worry about how I won’t be able to have champagne on my big day. And with my logical hat on, I know that being sober would not stop me having a magical wedding. But still.

I keep thinking – was my drinking really that bad? Cos it definitely wasn’t as bad as some people’s. I have what you might call a high bottom. I never got caught drink driving, I never lost a job and I never ended up in a police station. I just quietly got shit faced on my own.

It occurred to me today that if you told me I could never eat chocolate again I’d be pretty gutted. I love the stuff. I’m not addicted to chocolate but I’d really miss it. I’d probably think about it a lot and obsess about it. Therefore, the fact that I have wine on the brain doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a problem. Right?

I guess the difference between my passion for chocolate and my passion for alcohol is that chocolate has never caused me any problems. I have never called in sick at work, passed out on the sofa or done things I don’t remember after eating too much chocolate. I have never started eating chocolate and found myself unable to stop. I’ve never stumbled around looking for a late night chocolate shop.These are the kind of random, swirly, angry thoughts I’ve been having this week. Big old pity party for one. Turns out anger makes me pretty good at cleaning though. Over the past few days I’ve spent hours on my hands and knees, scrubbing the floor of my balcony, after I realised the wood floor was actually supposed to be light brown and not black. I meant to do that last summer. I also meant to buy patio furniture but never got round to it. But I’ve finally got it all done. A few days ago everything was dirty and green tinged. Now it’s all shiny and clean and my new red patio furniture looks pretty ace. It’ll be a great place to drink wine I mean, it’ll be a great place to drink Virgin Mojitos. 

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The strongest cravings take you by surprise

Today I was on my way home when I found myself walking behind a cute guy in a smart suit. He was carrying a few groceries in a see-through plastic bag, like he’d just swung by the supermarket. There was a stick of French bread poking out the top of the bag, but what caught my eye was a bottle of red wine that seemed to be looking straight at me.

I could murder a glass of red wine, I thought. I miss it so much.
 
I looked at the bag more closely. I bet he has some cheese in there too. That’s what I’d buy. Bread, cheese and a bucket of wine. Maybe he’s going back to the flat he shares with his girlfriend? Maybe they’re going to have a romantic night in. Not only did I long for the wine but I yearned for the whole picture: the thoughtful boyfriend, the night in cuddled on the sofa, the sophisticated chit chat over a glass or two. 
 
I am never going to have that now.
 
The guy walked into my building and we got the lift together. I turned my back on him and pretended to study the wall.
 
Where did that intense craving come from? I haven’t lusted after wine like that for weeks. I’m tired today but was in a pretty good mood at the time. I’d just had a sports massage – a necessary evil – and was congratulating myself on being proactive and doing something about my aching legs before I got injured. Before I stopped drinking I’d have never got round to that kind of thing.
 
The wine wasn’t even nice wine. I’m pretty sure I recognised the brand – it was the cheap stuff that’s normally on offer. He hadn’t even picked decent wine and still I wanted it.
 
It wasn’t long before the craving passed, maybe twenty minutes or so. As I write this, several hours later, I feel absolutely fine. It’s as if I’m writing about another person. Weird. I’d still like a cute boyfriend who brings home dinner though…

Day 50

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Wowee – I am fifty days sober today!

All in all, it’s gone pretty quick. The first few weeks dragged, but then somehow the numbers just started ticking over.

You know what? Sometimes this sober stuff is hard work but most of the time it is pretty damn amazing. Today the sun is shining and I feel GREAT!

I kind of celebrated my 50 days yesterday when I got a bit carried away shopping for summer clothes online – that’s how I justified the cost anyway – today I am going to a spinning class and then eating ice cream. Cos that’s how I roll these days….

No highs, no lows

Yesterday Carrie wrote a great post about missing the chaos of drinking. When I read it I realised that this was something that’d been niggling away at me. Like Carrie, I sometimes miss the recklessness and sheer abandonment of getting totally shit faced. Plus, drinking was my hobby. It filled my time as well as conveniently helping me experience and process a range of different emotions. It was there when I wanted to celebrate and it was there when I was sad, or stressed, or bored. Without alcohol life sometimes feels a bit empty. Even though all these great things have happened since I stopped, and I don’t have any real urge to drink, life feels a bit boring at times.

I’m sure I read somewhere that when you quit drinking the lows stop being so low and the highs are even higher. Well so far I haven’t really found that. I’m just going steady, somewhere in the middle. So yeah, the lows aren’t as low but where are the highs?

The other thing is that since I’ve stopped drinking I can’t really let myself just ‘be’. I’d quite like to spend a whole day in my pyjamas watching crap TV but because I used to do that whilst knocking back wine, I don’t want to tempt fate by doing it sober. I don’t want to risk getting bored because that seems a bit dangerous. So like some weirdo control freak I plan what I’m going to do on my days off. Even when I haven’t got much on I’ll work out exactly when I’m going to do things like go the gym and will mentally create a little schedule for the day.

I guess drinking just disguised a lot of the little holes in my life but now I can’t hide from anything. I have to actually experience every single emotion. And all this endless self-analysis is a bit of a bummer sometimes. Sometimes I’d just like to not think.

Doing too much?

I finally have a few days off work and boy, do I need a break. I’ve worked eight out of the last ten days, all twelve hour shifts, and it’s been pretty manic following the tornado earlier this week and the terror attack in London yesterday.

I wouldn’t normally work so many days in a row but I was offered the overtime and I thought the extra money would come in handy. Before I stopped drinking, I was always reluctant to take on extra work. This is because a) working interfered with my plans to drink and b) I never had the energy. I felt I needed all my time off just to stay sane.

Since I’ve stopped drinking I’ve had so much more energy and most of the time I feel very strong, like I can do anything. I can’t think of another way to describe it. Last month, when I went to a stop drinking seminar, one of the things that really struck a chord with me was when the therapist described problem drinkers as ‘strong willed’. He argued that you have to be pretty strong and determined to put up with the hangovers, the tiredness and the problems that drinking creates in your life. I really liked this description because it’s so different from the qualities we normally associate with boozers. And it’s so true. You do have to be pretty hardcore to go to work with an epic hangover and act like you’re totally fine.

In all aspects of my life I’ve started saying ‘yes’ more often, whether it be taking on extra shifts or going out with friends. ‘No’ tended to be my default answer before. In the past I’ve turned down nights out because I’d already planned to get wasted on my own. What a loser…

On the whole, this new ‘can do’ attitude is a good thing. It’s just that this week that I’ve done a bit too much. I’ve not slept enough and tiredness has chiselled away at the logical part of my brain.  Fortunately I haven’t had any urges to drink this week, but I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I did. My sober car has been plodding along without driver.

So I think the lesson for me has been that I can’t take things for granted. Just because things have gone ok so far I still need to be nice to myself. I need to get enough rest, eat properly, exercise and do my ‘sober homework’ (basically – reading blogs and listening to downloads of the Bubble Hour). And that’s exactly what I’m going to do today.

Sobriety rocks

I cannot believe it’s been six weeks since my last drink! I haven’t been sober for this long since… 2002? That’s when I left sixth form and discovered alcohol properly. I’ve had a few sober stints here and there. I managed a month in August 2011. Last year there were a couple of booze free fortnights and several ‘detox’ weeks. At the start of this year I decided to have a dry January. Even though the whole world seemed to be having a month off the booze, I didn’t make it past the second week.

What has made it different this time? I’m not sure. Maybe I’d reached that point where enough was enough. The 100 day challenge has made a huge difference. It’s such a brilliant idea. A hundred days is do-able and much less scary than giving up ‘forever’. By the end of the challenge I know I will have some distance between me and alcohol. Like splitting up from a toxic but long-term boyfriend, alcohol and I need a trial separation first.

Since I’ve stopped drinking, I’ve noticed lots of changes and benefits – some big, some small. Some days it’s easy to take it all for granted and forget how things used to be just a few short weeks ago. So here’s my list of all the things I love about not drinking. It’s a work in progress. Let me know what’s on yours.

Money: I had no idea how much I was spending on alcohol because I tended to pick up a bottle of wine here and there. It’s still hard to put an exact figure on it, but nights out + plus several bottles of wine a week, (and all the extras that came with that, like taxis, takeaways and days off work) were a real drain on my finances.  

Skin: It’s taken a while, but my skin is looking much clearer. I never have a puffy face and my eyes are brighter.

Weight: Two people have asked me if I’ve lost weight! I’m back in my skinny jeans so I don’t really mind that the scales say I’ve only lost two pounds….

Sleep: I get eight hours solid every night. No more waking up at 4am for me. I love my bed.  

Eating better: I always liked cooking pretty healthy food but could never be bothered. Now I think about what I’d like to eat and I actually go to the supermarket before the fridge is empty. Just like a real grown up.  

I get things done: I’ve always been a list maker, but I was also a great procrastinator. I love getting things crossed off my to-do list. 

More energy: This must be linked to the sleep/food thing. 

I feel happier: I’d noticed that drinking made me feel very depressed the day after a big binge. But I’d almost got used to the constant stream of negativity that ran through my head every single day. If I wasn’t worrying about drinking I was hating myself, feeling guilty and disgusted at my lack of control. Getting rid of all that noise has been pretty amazing.

Memory: I can actually remember the plot lines on TV shows so I don’t have to keep watching the same episodes twice!

Time: This is a big one for me. It feels like finally, there are 24 hours in a day. Drinking steals time from you. There’s the time you waste when you’re thinking about drinking, the blurry hours lost in drunkeness and the time spent recovering from it all. That process can swallow up days at a time. How I ever got anything done I will never know…

The things drink makes us do…

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I was going into my flat yesterday just as my neighbour was coming out. He caught me by surprise. I’ve not heard a sound from next door recently so I actually thought he’d moved out. I didn’t make eye contact. We don’t these days – not since the night I tried to kick his door in.

Yes, that’s right – well brought up, polite, middle class me, tried to kick his door down a few months ago. I think it was in February. I was, you guessed it, drunkety drunk drunk drunk. He’d been playing his music too loud, again. All I could hear was the pounding bass, booming from a speaker I’m sure he deliberately pointed at my wall. 

During January and February I’d knocked on his door countless times to ask him to turn it down (nicely). He always would, begrudgingly, before eventually turning it back up again. Anyway, this one night I’d been drinking, home alone, and I just lost it. I went absolutely nuts. I banged on the wall that separates our two flats and yelled SHUT UP! To which he replied F**K OFF! So I marched myself round to his door and rather than knocking I started kicking it, again and again and again.

I can only imagine what I looked like, in my spotty dressing gown, pink pyjamas and slippers. When he finally opened the door we had a screaming match in the corridor which ended in me yelling “I HATE YOU, YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE!”. So, just a tad over dramatic there. 

Maybe he was drunk too. Maybe he’s also ashamed of the way he behaved. But he doesn’t play his music loudly anymore. He doesn’t make eye contact with me either.

Although this particular outburst was very out of character for me, it’s fair to say drinking made me more angry, compulsive, reckless. I did lots of stupid things when drunk. Even when I was sober I was irritable and prone to rash decisions. I used to think I was just being ‘honest’ but actually I was just grumpy and negative. My Dad once said to me that he thought I took after his mother, because I always see the glass half empty. That hurt, particularly as he was right. 

I’m not saying that I’ve come over all zen like and calm since I stopped drinking. Not at all. But I am much better at controlling anger and stepping back. I still bash out angry emails to people when I’m annoyed. I just don’t send them. I wait until the next day, when I’ve calmed down. In general, I feel much more positive about life. Drinking made me feel so depressed the day after. Taking away those dark, hung over days has made a huge difference to my overall mood. Will I ever become a glass half full person? I hope so…