Me Minus Wine

My journey through sobriety

Month: August 2014

Resentments, Fears and Harms

“Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. This was Step Four.”

My goodness, this step four work is hard.

I didn’t come to A.A because I wanted to, I came because I would do anything to ensure that my son would not be removed from me. I came because I was looking for a character witness, to assure the court and magistrate that I was no longer drinking. Within a couple of weeks, it turned out that the police decided to merely give me a caution. I then realised that I was no longer in a place where I was coming to A.A to stop drinking, I started coming because I wanted to stay sober. I wanted to have what I saw in the rooms; a happiness, a contented life.

When I discovered that I no longer felt I needed to come to pay lip service but in fact, I wanted to come, something changed. I found myself a home group, I got myself a sponsor and I started doing service.

Through my meetings with my sponsor, I started doing the Joe and Charlie Big Book study. By this time I had read the Big Book cover to cover a couple of times with not much really sinking in. I had been confronted with the 12 Steps at every meeting.  I still thought my drinking hadn’t harmed anyone but myself, not really.

Slowly but surely I became aware of how wrong I was.

For me, it would seem that my life has been pretty much run on fear. Fear of failure, fear of other people’s perceptions of me, fear of abandoment, fear of losing the two people most precious to me, fear of losing control (the irony of the fact I always lost control when drinking is not lost on me), fear of not meeting expectations and the list goes on. Intertwined are my defects of character; I am a control freak, I can be quick to lose my temper, I am selfish, dishonest. On the one hand I am looking forward to asking my Higher Power to remove them all (and that’s key isn’t it, I have to be willing to have them all removed) and yet I am scared. Scared because I believe that many, if not all, of these defectives protect me from hurt, from making myself vulnerable.

Yet, I am only on Step 4. For now, all I have to do is write the list but I can’t seem to stop myself from fast-forwarding, my head probably making things worse than they will be. Another defect of character of mine; imagine everything to be impossibly worse than it needs to be so that I protect myself.

Making my lists of resentments, fears and harms has been hanging over me for weeks now and I seem to have become something of an expert at procrastination. My meeting last night has inspired me and today I am determined to get down to business.

Reminding Myself

Yesterday I found myself wanting a glass or two of wine. I pictured myself unwinding mid-afternoon,  toasting the weekend to come. I could see myself laughing and joking with people in the pub, while watching the start of the Premiership football season this afternoon. I remembered long, lazy Sunday roast dinners, drinking some wine and relaxing on the sofa to yet more football. I was not actually tempted to rush out and buy a bottle of wine, I was just yearning, remembering the good times.

There must be a reason why my home group is on a Friday night; I suspect it has more to do with it being the start of the weekend rather than availability of hire of the hall.

As I listened to people sharing back the positives that sobriety has brought them, my own memories and realisations came back. Every weekend I would inevitably end up sleeping on the sofa, having passed out and my husband being unable wake or move me. Mornings and even full days were spent trying to recall my escapades of the previous day, whilst drinking vast quantities of Coca Cola in a bid to rid myself of the hangover, before starting again. Arguments and screaming matches with my husband were frequent occurrences, occasionally resulting in visits from the police, worried that I was a victim of domestic abuse and frequently resulting in threats of leaving. I had no plans for the future and felt my life was going no where.

And now? Sobriety has brought me enjoyment of life. I spend more time with my son, playing with him or taking him out. I have enrolled on an Open University course in a bid to further my education and feel more fulfilled. My husband and I are yet to have an argument and we spend time talking together, like grown ups. Gone are the mornings wasting in bed feeling sorry for myself and making (and absolutely meaning) promises to control my drinking, only to break them hours later. I can meet up with family for a morning, no longer worrying whether I will be too hungover to make it or making plans to escape so I could start drinking.

Sobriety has given me so much; it’s just occasionally I need a little reminder of just what it has given me.

So Long, Wine O’Clock

When I first got sober, a mere five months ago, one of my most immediate concerns was how would I reward myself at the end of the day? As my alcholoism took grip, the first glass of wine became more appealling. I began to see it less of a reward once my son was in bed and more of a need.

Towards the end of my drinking, “Wine O’Clock” got earlier. My husband and I would clock watch for lunch-time. Once our son was safely deposited at nursery after lunch, I would open a bottle of wine and my husband would have already started on his lager. By mid-afternoon I was often already a bottle of wine down. Plastering on make up, fixing a smile (which most likely appeared more like a manic grin), spraying myself with body spray and sucking on a few extra strong mints before collecting my son from nursery all became the norm. I (perhaps naively) assumed no one noticed. I have since been told (by people who only know me for nursery drop off/pick up) that I look healthier and happier.

I found the lunch time drinking sessions easy to drop. Instead I spent my time rediscovering my love for reading. I worked out my plans for the future as I suddenly realised that my son would be at school full time from September. As someone who cannot currently work, I realised I need something to fill my time. I think I have found what I want to do and once it is confirmed, that will be a post for another time.

However, my self-declared “Wine O’Clock” time (and indeed that as voiced on social media such as Twitter which seems to be anything between 5 pm to 7 pm or once your child is asleep depending on who you ask) was another story. Perhaps I found (or still find) it hard because I am on social media so much.

Our son was used to staying out late with us or just staying up late because we simply couldn’t be bothered to read a story to him and so bedtime quickly became a battle and I would catch myself thinking “At least I can have some wine”. Remembering that, actually, that glass of wine is no longer an option was difficult so I quickly became a chain smoker, I replaced wine with Coca-Cola and chocolate and sweets. A consequence of living a sober life is that I have piled on weight; I have put on about 2.5 stone whereas most people seem to lose weight. As such, my confidence took a battering for a while; my clothes no longer and I once again found myself becoming isolated, simply because I didn’t like how I looked. Treating myself to a bit of a shopping spree definitely helped! Having that shopping spree without the frequent stops for a glass of wine, was yet another new experience.

Over the last week or so, my son has once again started acting out at bedtime. The thoughts of wine, followed by swift dismissals have made another appearance. My dreams are filled with relapses, my coming to each morning finds me asking my husband for reassurance that I didn’t drink due to how vivid they are.

My sponsor told me that Dr Bob, one of the founders of AA, had the obsession over alcohol for the first two and half years of his sobriety. Whilst I hope that will not be the case for me, until that disappears, I shall use the tools I have and try not to worry too much about my weight, since I don’t need to just yet.

The Shift

I don’t know when I started to drink alcoholically. I know that, aside from getting drunk on White Lightning cider at my 13th birthday sleepover (which I hated), I first started drinking later than many of my peers at 17 years old, I drank normally. I could go to the pub for just one drink on a Friday lunchtime. What I don’t know, what I cannot pinpoint is when the shift happened, when the blackouts started and hangovers started to creep in.

Family members first started voicing concerns a couple of years ago, although I suspect now they were worried for a long time before. I justified my drinking to myself and to anyone who listen by saying “Well look at my social media feeds, every parent drinks after a stressful day”. What I steadfastly ignored is that just one drink would be enough for most people. My inability to leave an opened (heck, even unopened) bottle of wine in the fridge spoke volumes. My behaviour spoke volumes; sneaking empty wine bottles into neighbours recyclying bins or stuffing them into general waste so that no one would could tell I drank 15 bottles of wine a week, just at home, not counting the several each week in the pub, begging my husband to go to the shop once more for yet another bottle of wine. None that is normal behaviour and yet I was oblivious to it.

Certainly I know that I was becoming dependent on alcohol before I fell pregnant. My pregnancy test was done while I had a hangover from hell, although I registered that mother nature should have paid a visit the previous day. Whilst I didn’t completely stop drinking, I did have just one glass of wine a week. When I was breastfeeding I wouldn’t drink unless I had managed to pump enough to get through one feed.

And yet somehow, it got me again. Once that phase of my life was over, I went right back into old habits. My ego told me it was OK. It was normal as a mum to drink after a day at home with a small child. I made my own rules; no drinking while the son was awake, no more than one glass if the husband was drinking. I changed the rules. One was OK when the son was awake. Then one glass became one bottle. So I switched to gin. So called “Mother’s Ruin”, how apt! I could drink gin normally, sip it slowly like you are supposed to. But I’d crave wine, knowing it could and would give me the oblivion I sought. Soon, I slipped back onto the wine.

I don’t know when the shift happened. Was it when I met my husband? After all, we enabled each other to drink. Was it later? Was it before? Was it becoming a parent that truly caused the shift? Was it leaving home, with all of the freedom and responsibility that brings, ill equipped for it that I was? And really, does it matter when the shift happened?

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