It’s 6 am and I am up and out in the garden with my Gorby Girl and a huge cup of green tea. I would like to tell you I am in my daily sober zen zone, that I have stretched and meditated, and am calm and focused on the day ahead. Except I am not. My puppy is running around barking at frogs, I have just spilt tea on my leg (it really hurts) and I am emotionally gearing myself up for a visit from one of my gorgeous brother’s who drinks like a fish. Happy Saturday!
Now as a formerly (drunk) mother, you may think that I shall be employing some form of majestic, iron clad willpower to resist the tidal wave of booze that is coming my way this afternoon. That I must be putting my emotionally protective soldiers in place, bayonets ready, to ward off any temptation. Maybe planning out my strategies and the conversations I might need to employ to stay in my sober zone. None of those are true.
I have willpower, an abundance of the stuff in fact, but I never utilize it to not drink. I don’t need to.
We only need willpower to resist doing what we desire, the things we do want to do, not the things we truly don’t. And because of our desire, it is the hardest, least successful method of long term change.
Last week was tough for me on a number of levels. I won’t bore you with details, but it ground me down and certain events caused me a great deal of emotional upset. For me, drink is off the table. It’s just not an option. There is no desire. Been there, done that, nearly killed myself, so no thanks. Cheesecake however holds center place. I think for the last 5 days out of 7, I have bought cheesecake to comfort myself. And on some levels it has.
We wouldn’t eat the crap, drink the booze if there was no sense of comfort gained, temporary though it only ever is.
However last night I went shopping and didn’t buy the cheesecake. I saw it, still wanted it and an inner tussle ensued. This time though I employed my PAUSE and in that pause, before my willpower was called into action, I re-thought the ‘why’ of my ‘need’ for cheesecake I understood and acknowledged the ’emptiness’ I was trying to fill, and let the thoughts of cheesecake drift away. Great stuff. I left the shop contented, in peace and went home happy.
However, had I actually allowed myself to enter into the internal dialogue, the fight of should I/shouldn’t I, the self-justifications versus the recriminations, I might have been able to walk away with my willpower coming out on top (doubt it though). But how would I have felt? Triumphant, yes (over ignoring a cheesecake……..!), but also exhausted, probably on some inner level upset that I was missing out and definitely fearing the next time I would have to employ my weary willpower.
But by recognizing my thinking of what I expected from this over sweet, processed sugar fest, by asking myself what I actually needed emotionally, by acknowledging how I was feeling and giving myself an emotional cuddle – I have even got into the habit of putting my arms round myself wherever I am and whenever I need it – I was able to let go of my desire, my ‘cheesecake want’ and move on without even asking my willpower to join my unhappy inner party.
At the risk of repeating myself, which I will because this point is so important, we only need to use willpower against something we desire.
Understand and acknowledge the emotional ‘why’ of your wants and desire is lessened, making choice much easier because you no longer feel you are missing out on anything. And when you truly feel you are not missing out, desire simply drifts away and willpower becomes redundant
Initially, in tougher time, at least to start with, desire may well come back, maybe in a different form, but the same strategy of understanding and acknowledging does work and you will build your truly comforting resilience muscle. So much more effective than any willpower.
So, this afternoon I will have my lovely, kind, funny and no doubt very drunk brother to stay. He will come back from the pub with my son – God help my precious boy – where he will, no doubt, have honoured our Irish heritage with a few ill thought out ditties before stumbling back here with vodka.
I will be sitting serene(ish) in my garden with my tonic water, struggling to understand his anecdotes. My willpower though unemployed in that moment, will be fiercely called upon tomorrow morning, as I am already weary with the knowledge that I will have to get out of bed and walk Gorby at 6am on a Sunday morning after only 4 hours sleep.
Love & respect
If you would like to know more about my journey to sobriety, check out my memoir, This Isn’t Me.
To understand how I help clients, take a look at my Working with Me page, and Practical Techniques for Recovery page.
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Before we set off on our journey to Sobriety, we must program the sat nav of us. We need to enter not only our desired destination, but our start point as well. So, where is our current location? In my experience, for those of us who have decided to undertake the (seemingly) arduous road to Sobriety, we have somehow and inexplicably found ourselves stranded in a place called What-The-Fork (you get my meaning), which, to save time, I will abbreviate to WTF.
I wafted in to WTF in a mist of wine and vodka, young and happy(ish), at least on the outside. Glass in hand, WTF felt fun, relaxing, benign and welcoming. Relieving me of stress and uncomfortable emotions, it just kept those good times rolling. And they did roll, for a long time, until they didn’t. And for so much longer.
The change in life in WTF was insidiously slow and, to start with, almost imperceptible. I do remember feeling less of me, less shiny, less happy, less peaceful, but life is like that isn’t it? And at least in WTF I had a way of making myself feel more of the things I had started to feel less of.
It was easy. My pick-me-up of choice, booze, was everywhere, not just in bars and pubs, but in all WTF’s pretty cottages, where doors were propped wide open, invisible arms waving me in. I simply drifted into wherever was closest, downed another (and increasingly larger) glass of whatever booze was on offer, and the sun came out again. For a bit………..
But then the bars, pubs & even the cottages, started to change. These light, always sunny and welcoming establishments started, ever so slightly, to dim. Faint dust motes of despair began their gentle downward spiral, landing, not only on shiny surfaces, but also on me. To start with I would attempt to wipe the dust away with my fingers, smearing as I did the view I had of the preson I was, my ability to cope with life, my self-esteem. And over time, that dust of despair fell thicker and faster, dulling happiness and joy, choking out conversation and reasoning. For so many years I remained covered in volcanic proportions of that damn suffocating stuff, blinded by its unrelenting grey storm.
As the changes in WTF became more obvious, I started to wonder what on earth was going on. I made a decision, “Ok, enough of this shit, I’m off”. Then, in the very moment I decided to pack up and leave, the façade of WTF crumbled completely, its grim reality finally exposed.
It’s warm, sometimes fuzzy, welcoming and inviting embrace, became in an instant, a vice like iron grip. Cold, unforgiving and painful to the touch, it’s true hold became so tight that I struggled even to breathe. I knew immediately that I was trapped in WTF. I had become its prisoner, and one with no hope of parole.
Now, obviously WTF isn’t real in terms of bricks and mortar. You can’t take a train there and it’s not on any bus route, so how was it constructed, why was its hold over me so cripplingly powerful and where did it exist? The answers are frightening.
WTF was constructed by me, made powerful by me and existed only in my mind, in my thinking.
No transport, public or private, was necessary. I was already there.
In my next blogs, I am going to tell you how I built my WTF, the conditioning that was its foundation, the thoughts that grew its impenetrable walls. It’s the same way we all build our own WTF’s.
We cannot change anything we don’t understand. We don’t know even where to start.
If we don’t recognise how are own internal WTF was constructed, short of bombing it and ourselves into oblivion, we can’t know how to take it down.
But when we do understand, when we know how our thoughts give rise to the edifices they build, when we know how to question our thinking, when we step back from what we believe and allow other thoughts to take their place, the foundations of our WTF can turn from concrete to sand and dissolve before our very eyes.
With understanding comes clearer thinking and the possibility of new options. With options come freedom, if we choose to take that route.
So, fellow travellers, Understanding will be the first stop on our journey to recovery.
Until next week.
If you would like to keep up to date with my blogs, news & offers, click on the link for my Breakthrough Mentor Newsletter.
Love and respect x
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Welcome to the launch of my blog, Insights from a (Formerly) Drunk Mother. This is an unexpectedly proud day for me, not only am I living my dream of being the sober happy mother and woman I never thought I could be, but I am also in the privileged position of being able to offer help and support to my fellow travelers seeking the inner peace that comes with freedom from our unhappy emotional habits. And trust me on this, whether your poison is food or booze, all soul destroying unhappy habits are firmly rooted in the same place, the personal emotions & conditioning that are so safely and securely stored in our immensely powerful unconscious mind.
In my weekly blog posts I am going to share with you all the wisdom I have gained on my continuing sober journey. I write wisdom not knowledge as knowledge is not enough, it is what we take from that knowledge, how we interpret it, and how that interpretation resonates within us that enables profound change.
If you have read my book, This Isn’t Me , you will know that for me, realizing that I had a choice to drink or not to drink rocked my world completely. It smashed all my pre-conceived, and, almost literally, fatally flawed thinking around my alcoholism, addiction across the board and chances of recovery.
In an instant my world changed, I suddenly had the insight I didn’t even know I needed. I ‘got it’, I ‘got me’ and by ‘getting me’, I had a clear way forward that nothing and no-one else’s view of alcoholism and my freedom from it could deflect me from. I know me better than any book, group, lecture or tried and tested formula for recovery, and thank’s very much for the input, I’ll go with me.
However, what worked for me won’t necessarily work for someone else. Others have read and understood my insight, but in their view of the world, with their conditioning around alcohol, their personal history, thier booze history and thier experience of attempts to quit, my recovery can sound amazing. People tell me that I am amazing but that what I have achieved is completely beyond them.
My moment of insight was amazing, but I am not. I simply understood something that hit one of my deepest held core values, (the responsibility of choice), and in doing so, I put myself, without even trying, firmly back in control and on an unwavering path to sobriety. God, I love that word! x
So, the blog posts that are to follow are my best attempt to unweave the unhelpful, faulty information we are drip fed from a far too young age as to alcohol, its place in society, what it gives to us, how ‘harmless’ it is – which it can seem to be until you want to stop, and usually, in that very moment, you realize you can’t………….. As well as to challenge the accepted wide spread views on recovery (of which we have no chance because we are addicts), well hell no, I am living proof that is bull**** .
My aim is to give you the best opportunity to at least shift the unseen alcohol blinkers you may be wearing, that will help you find your insight too.
I am going to be honest and straightforward, and all I ask of you is that you turn up, tune in and read with an open mind. If I sound crazy, laugh at me, but then please read again. I want nothing from you, yet have everything to give.
If you don’t like or understand anything, email me. I will always answer.
The road to recovery has been sold to you as an uphill, rocky terrain. A journey on which you must always have a white nuckle grip on the steering wheel of you, sweating with anticipation of the alcohol quivalent of a speed bump or pot hole, always driving at the edge of a precipice, with no rest stops and nowhere to park. It doesn’t have to be.
Instead, I invite you to buckle up, roll down your windows and enjoy the journey. Feel the breeze blow through your open mind as it loosens your thinking, learning to smell the freshness that comes with an alcohol free body. Steering your life your way, in the direction you want to go to, responsible, accountable and in control.
There is a beautiful life out there waiting for all my fellow travellers, we have just lost our way for a while.
Bring your sandwiches, a bottle of water (out pops the nutritionist in me), and enjoy the way your life naturally changes as we trundle down the not-so-confusing-after-all road to sobriety.
PS. I have even lovingly lit the way with candles.
Until next week. Love & respect. x
If you would like to keep up to date with my blogs, news & offers, click on the link for my Breakthrough Mentor Newsletter.
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