Sober: Day 25

14th May 2020, Thursday

Again, another day of taking things easily. Another really good nights sleep, I feel so refreshed in a morning now and ready to face the day whatever it brings.

Once I reach 30 days sober I may not update this blog on a daily basis, unless i’m struggling or trying to work things out in my mind. I feel it might get quite repetitive day after day – “well here I am day xx, still not drinking” you get the picture… At the moment i’m feeling good about not drinking and don’t currently have any desire to start again. I know, after multiple goes that I now have to face the fact that I cannot moderate, I just end up right back where I started and I really don’t want to be in a cycle of multiple day 1s. Been there, done that.

I actually told my OH at dinner tonight that I’m never going to drink again. I think he was a bit shocked. He said “what, not ever, not Christmas, or birthdays, or when we go and see x and y?” I told him, no not ever again, I mean it and also talked to him about my inability to control or moderate drinking and that I don’t want to return to an unhealthy level of drinking again.

A fun Zoom call this evening with our friends x and y (mentioned above), they were both on the wine but I was on water and OH by then was on coffee (after a beer and 4 glasses of wine, not that I’m counting. OK I am). After the Zoom a really fun WhatsApp quiz with my sober buddies group, we had such amazing fun, so many laughs and not a drop was drunk. Love those girls, we’re getting to know each other really well.

Meaningful May: Show your gratitude to people who are helping to make things better. I expressed my gratitude to our sober group leader and mentor who had compiled this evenings quiz and who encouraged us to take part. I told her that I feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful group of other sober people who support each other, hold each other up when one of us is down and exude so much positivity, it’s wonderful

View from the balcony, I took this photo a few weeks ago at sunset – everything is looking a lot browner and drier now!

Sober: Day 24

13th May 2020, Wednesday

Shopping first thing, went at 7.30am and the usual routine at the supermarket: hand sanitiser and temperature taken at the entrance then the trolley handle was sanitised. We did a quick predatory shop and out again as soon as we could. We’ve been very lucky here in Cyprus not to suffer the panic buying they had back in the UK where there are still shortages I believe. Even the packs of toilet roll here are still on BOGOFF (buy one, get one free).

I didn’t go for a walk today, I want, and need, my body to put all it’s energy into healing my ulcerative colitis. Made some lovely nourishing soup for lunch – green split pea and vegetable. Yum!

Played Scrabble online, did some work, read, sat in the sun. Phoned mum, happily she was pretty good. The quit lit i’m currently reading is Allen Carr’s The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking. It takes the form of reverse brainwashing – rinsing away all those years and years of being bombarded with the myths about the benefits of alcohol.

No new beer to review for “beer” o’clock today. It’ll be Carlsberg AF or San Miguel 0% now for me for a while until I can get back over to the bigger store. Funny though, one AF beer is perfectly enough for me late afternoon and I never feel like another one, unlike when it was an alcoholic beer when I would either have another one or finish the beer and make an immediate start on the wine.

The weather forecast for the weekend is for over 40C. Not looking forward to that, need to make sure i’ve got plenty of ice in the freezer and plenty of chilled, soft drinks in the fridge.

Meaningful May: Today do something to care for the natural world. Hopefully, with a background of biology and ecology I do something beneficial for the natural world everyday, at the moment I fill the bird bath in the garden here with fresh water daily – it’s surprising how quickly, in this heat, it evaporates and natural water sources are becoming scarce. I also put my bird sightings into the local database, whether at home or on holiday, which will hopefully be able to inform conservation choices in the future. I have a fascination with all things natural and today my photo is of the praying mantis that has been living in the plant on the balcony. What an amazing creature!

Sober: Day 23

12th May 2020, Tuesday

I woke up not knowing what day it was, strange as I went to bed sober 😃 Must be the lockdown effect where every day is the same. It doesn’t actually matter what day it is, they are all the same at the moment – apart from Sundays when the grocery store is closed.

I had my first first drinking dream since becoming sober last night. I was sitting at a railway station guzzling a beer and gin combination. It tasted gross in my dream but I still kept on drinking it and thinking “why am I doing this?”

“Beer” o’clock today and a brew called Bavaria, alcohol free malt apple drink. Nothing beer-like at all about it, it looked and tasted exactly like Appletise. Another one to cross off the list, but, hey, you have to try these things. I didn’t even take a photo of the bottle, sorry.

Meaningful May: Be grateful for the little things even in difficult times. It’s certainly difficult to be away from the family and even if I was at home in Scotland I wouldn’t be able to travel the 500+ miles to see everyone – mum and dad at 84 and 87 are shielding and only halfway through their 12 weeks of that so I couldn’t visit and stay with them like I normally would. DD1 and GS1 are both asthma sufferers and so are being very careful, both have been hospitalised in the last 12 months because of their condition. And DD2 and GS2, well I wouldn’t want to take the virus to a 3.5 week old baby. In all of this i’m so so grateful for the internet! Messenger, WhatsApp, FaceTime, it helps to keep us all connected and i’m so thankful for that

Sober: Day 22

11th May 2020, Monday

Up at 7.45am. Set out to go on a walk but only got 100 yards before I had to return. I’ll try again later. I’m not going to let this stupid ulcerative colitis beat me. Thank goodness i’m not still drinking alcohol as that would do my insides no good at all. It is stressing me out though and I felt on the verge of a panic attack when I got back to the apartment. I won’t drink though. I might have a cigarette, I feel like I need a cigarette though i’ve been given up 82 days. Actually I don’t know if I can face a disgusting cigarette anymore, I think I would throw up. 🤮

After lunch more stress, OH had a text and two missed calls from his bank. The text said that they had declined a payment of £720 from his credit card. He hadn’t made any payments so he spent almost an hour on the phone to the bank, most of that time on hold. Eventually he was put through to the banks fraud team and they said that earlier today another payment, this one for £299 had been authorised. He hadn’t made that payment either – he hasn’t used that card since arriving here in Cyprus 10 weeks ago. Anyway the card is now blocked and OH will assist the police in the investigation any way that he can. We have no idea when, how long ago or from where his card details were stolen.

While all that was going on my anxiety level was sky high and I could hear the voice of my addict inside my head, hammering on the window of the room I’ve locked her in, and she was shouting “wine, wine, wine, wine” and showing me a glass of chilled white wine filling up. I sat and took deep breaths, read some of my current quit lit, and eventually calmed down. The crisis passed without me falling into a bottle but I realise I need to be very aware that the addict, although locked away is still there and able to be suddenly awakened and become rowdy and obnoxious.

“Beer” o’clock today and an alcohol free Warsteiner, a German brew and probably the nicest AF beer that i’ve tried so far. I even said to OH “ooh, I think they put the wrong beer in this bottle” if I didn’t know it was AF I would swear it was a regular beer. This one is definitely on my shopping list.

Meaningful May: What are your most important values? Use them today. I think my most important values at the moment are gratitude and courage. I think I used courage to get over the stresses of today. I also plucked up courage and told one of my very close friends that i’ve given up drinking alcohol, I had a positive response from her. Gratitude: For a couple of years now I’ve kept a gratitude journal, I try to write three things down every morning and evening that i’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s difficult to think what to write, if I’ve had a bad day but there is always something that I can be grateful for.

A definite 10/10 for this one!

Sober: Day 21

10th May 2020, Sunday

Up around 8am and out for a short walk. Feeling slightly headachey today, I can’t be dehydrated, I drank plenty of water yesterday, plus a large glass of juice and diet lemonade and a bottle of alcohol free beer, only two cups of coffee so shouldn’t be too much of a diuretic effect from just that… Ah well, I just have to take it easy on myself in these early stages of sobriety. Three whole weeks though! Feeling pretty pleased with myself 😊

Another straightforward day, did some computer work. In and out of the sunshine on the balcony. The heat is starting to ramp up here now – or maybe it’s because I normally live in Scotland and i’m still acclimatised to there?

“Beer” o’clock and todays alcohol free offering was a Czech beer by the Staropramen brewery. It was very pleasant, smelled and tasted good, and ice cold at the end of a hot afternoon it really hit the spot.

Meaningful May: Tell someone about why your favourite music means a lot to you.

So, dear reader, I’ll tell you. A lot of my favourite music has connections to my late son. He was supposed to be profoundly deaf (as well as being blind and having cerebral palsy) – he wasn’t deaf, one of his sisters just had to whisper the word “fart” from the other room and he’d be in fits of laughter.

Music brought him an immense amount of joy and his taste was wide-ranging – what other 13 year old boy would cry when listening to opera then sing along in his own wee way to Robbie Williams. Even now, nearly 17 years after he died I still can’t listen to Dolly Parton singing “I will always love you” (which she wrote) without crying. I used to sit with my dear son on a Friday evening, holding him close, having mum and son cuddles and listening to the Rock and Ceilidh Show on Isles FM. They invariably played Dolly and i’d hold him as close as I could as I’d already been told that his lifespan would be limited, and sing away to him.

So, happy times, sad times, that’s what my favourite music means to me.

I think that a lot of my problems with drinking stem from not dealing with my grief properly back then in 2003/2004. I did all the wrong things – trying to be strong for the rest of the family, not facing up to and dealing with my emotions at that time. Pushing it all down inside me and covering it up with too many glasses of wine, trying to keep some semblance of normality – it doesn’t do you any good but you can only see that with the benefit of hindsight.

Twelve years later when I lost someone who I loved very much to cancer I was very careful to deal with the grief in a much better way, but that’s a story for another day.

Great AF beer, 8/10

Sober: Day 20

9th May 2020, Saturday

Up early and tried to go for a walk, only got about 1/2 a mile and had to dash back to go to the loo, damn ulcerative colitis.

I’m on my next “round number” day, woo hoo! and it’ll be three weeks tomorrow since going AF. I feel like I need to give myself a pat on the back. As part of the Soberistas 100 Day Challenge i’ve pledged to donate 20p every sober day to a charity of my choice, this makes my contribution so far £4.00 – I find it very satisfying and motivating colouring in the square on my chart every day and seeing the money accumulate.

Spent quite a bit of time working on the laptop, interspersed with some time in the sun, topping up my vitamin D. A pretty uneventful day really, emotions and mood all felt pretty even.

The AF beer of choice today was a little strange, Blue Island Malt Drink, 0.0% alcohol free, pear flavour. Smell was a bit weird and it left a slight aftertaste. Perhaps a bit too “chemical” flavoured for my liking. I’ll be crossing that one off my shopping list.

Meaningful May: Look out for positive news and reasons to be cheerful today. I chatted with my mum, she’s 84 and sounded very upbeat and perky which is good as I do worry about her and my dad being isolated during lockdown but at least they have each other! Both of my grandsons are doing great, I received photos of both of them and messaged a lot with my daughters (the three of us have a group WhatsApp).

100 days sober at 20p a day will £20 to the charity of my choice
4/10 for this one…

Sober: Day 19

8th May 2020, Friday

We’d only shopped on Monday but we thought that we’d take advantage of our new found freedom and head over to the supermarket at Coral Bay as they have a homewares department there and I need a set of wine glasses – obviously not to drink wine out of! No, of the three provided with the apartment one had been put in the cupboard cracked and I also broke one while washing up a week or so ago.

I was very disappointed to find this morning that my Ulcerative Colitis seems to be flaring up again, the first time since 2014. A bit strange really when you think of all the past weeks and months i’ve spent abusing my insides with alcohol and had no problems. I think it is very likely to do with the amount of sugary snacks that i’ve replaced the alcohol with – cake, flapjack and biscuits. I need to be looking after myself and will return forthwith to a wholefood plant based no oil (WFPB) way of eating which, from experience, should do the trick.

So, we shopped and I was happy to find a really good selection of AF beers in the bigger supermarket. I got six to try, though that included one of the Carlsberg AF that I tried earlier in the week. What do you mean that doesn’t come under a WFPB diet? Well, sorry, but a girl can’t give absolutely everything up all in one go 😦 so i’ll see how it goes.

I finished reading Mrs D Is Going Without. It was a good book with a lot of really relatable things in it. Onto the next book now which I found after doing some research about Asperger Syndrome (yes that’s me) and alcohol. I couldn’t find too much on the subject but did find Asperger Syndrome and Alcohol, Drinking to Cope by Matthew Tinsley and Sarah Hendricks, this should hopefully be an interesting and insightful read.

Meaningful May: Set yourself a kindness mission. Give your time to help others. I took some time today to interact with, encourage and support some of my lovely online sober buddies 🙂

My “beer” of choice today

Sober: Day 18

7th May 2020, Thursday

Up before 8am so that we could get out walking before it got too hot. Six miles today just so great to be out and about, though a bit unnerving with so few people around, there was an almost post-apocalyptic feel to the day today.

Work on the computer though the internet was down for a few hours. I drank the other bottle of San Miguel 0% that I got the other day – it actually didn’t taste too bad today. I still sometimes feel a bit sad when I think about never drinking again, and sometimes feel scared about that but at other times – like when I wake up and feel great and i’ve had a good nights sleep (apart from getting up to pee three times…).

Meaningful May: Let someone you love know how much they mean to you. Told my OH how much I love and appreciate him, because I do, he’s my best friend in the world and I told him there is no one else i’d rather be in lockdown with (I refrained from adding “apart from Brad Pitt” hahaha).

Had a short period of time early evening when I was feeling very angry – the pizza that i’d made was stuck badly to the foil that it was sitting on and the Lebanese Bread base was falling to pieces. The mood felt very irrational even as it was happening but thankfully it was soon over!

Sober: Day 17

6th May 2020, Wednesday

Up earlyish and out for a longer walk, ended up doing 5 miles, the longest walk since before lockdown. Hot out but it felt good to get the legs going.

Not much happening the rest of the day, bit of work, bit of reading, mostly just chilling really. I did spend some time writing as i’m mulling over a few sobriety questions that i’ve been asking myself. I’ll post them on here when i’m done.

I am still occasionally feeling a little sad, scared even when I think I won’t be drinking again, probably ever. I have to remind myself that moderation has been impossible no matter how much I want to believe that I can go down that road. The feelings are fleeting though and internal calm returns.

Meaningful May: Take a step towards one of your life goals, however small. I started making some plans towards my retirement, very small plans at this point in time but what i’m planning should remove quite a stressful part of my life, leaving me to concentrate on the bits I really love – because hey, an artist or photographer never stops doing those things, they are a core part of your being.

Sober: Day 16

5th May 2020, Tuesday

Black clouds and thunder rumbling around when I got up this morning so I decided to delay my walk, hopefully it will clear up later.

I spent most of the day working (on my laptop) which was fine with me. At “beer” o’clock (I really need to find a new name for that) I tried the Carlsberg AF and was pleasantly surprised, it tasted way better than the strange perfumey San Miguel 0% (which I don’t think i’ll bother with again). Once again I also really enjoyed the large glass of ice/orange juice/diet lemonade that I had too. I’m figuring that I might just stick to that, especially if the shop runs out of Carlsberg AF (sidenote: why is it that if I find a product I like, shortly after the shop stops stocking it?…).

Veggie burger and oven roasted vegetables for dinner tonight, along with 1/2 of one of the wonderful pitta breads they make here in Cyprus. Perhaps i’m starting to obsess slightly but I couldn’t help noticing my OH’s alcohol consumption – he had a 500ml can of beer then at least 3 sizeable glasses of wine. I do worry about him, he’s consuming much more than the recommended weekly units. He’s always been a drinker, at times much heavier than now, but people have to decide for themselves if they want to make a change. He tells tales of his working days in London where it was the thing to do 747s – that is 7 pints at lunchtime, 4 pints after work and 7 pints in the pub in the evening. How is he not a raging alcoholic? He’s obviously not like me though, in that if i’m drinking my consumption gradually gets more and more as each week/month/year passes.

Meaningful May: Send friends a photo of a meaningful time you had together. I sent an old school photo to close friends – we all met when we were 11 and we started at a girls grammar school together, we are all 60 this year. I did much of my teenage (including underage) drinking with them and even now our get togethers are always fueled by copious amounts of Prosecco. I haven’t told them i’ve given up the booze yet…

Sweet 16 in the long hot summer of 1976, happy times.
If I could go back and speak to my younger self, what would I tell her? Maybe “alcohol is not your friend” I’m betting the little rebel wouldn’t listen though…