For some reason on the "I am sober" app that I have downloaded on my phone, today is a milestone. Day 77. Day 77 with no alcohol. Now alcohol is an addictive drug, we know this, I know this. The evidence screams this. The blogs, podcasts, books, websites, everything tell us this. So I have reached day 77 and I am most definately not out of the woods yet. Perhaps I never will be. I got to day 128 last year before I relapsed because I took my eye of the ball, I thought I was cured. When I think back to that time it had been a gradual process. The idea had kind of presented itself in my head and I did, what has now become second nature to me, I sought approval from my nearest and dearest. It would start with " hey I am thinking of starting to drink again, just a couple of glasses, every now and then? What do you think? Of course, I had the answers I wanted, yes, why not? You are clearly not an alcoholic, because you haven't had any for ages! Why not give yourself a treat? Its boring not drinking, you deserve and need a release. Of course, I had a few cautious responses, " well if your sure? I know how much this meant to you?" was one response I remember getting, and still then, I waited. I can't actually remember the first time I had a glass of wine, how sad is that? I can't actually remember. What I do remember with outstanding clarity is how quickly I sank. How quickly my crutch became a nightly thing, how quickly the voice in my head would berate me at 3:00pm in the morning when I got up and made my way to the kitchen for a glass of squash, or I sat on the toilet staring at the door, and the guilt would flood in. How much did I drink last night? Why did I do it? I have to stop? Did I say anything or promise anything? Did I post anything on facebook? I can't drink tonight etc etc . The internal dialogue in my head would be going full pelt and I quickly began that spiral of addiction that plagued every waking hour.
I woke up this morning with the realisation that I am an addict. It hit me hard and I woke up feeling nervous, apprehensive and guilty. I, most definately have an addictive personality. I like something, and that's it. This, I have learnt over the years can be a good thing, I am addicted to reading, to being a good mum, to being the best version of me. However I was addicted to alcohol. Yes it was a controlled addiction, never or very rarely drunk, but an addiction all the same. I was addicted to my wine every night no matter how you dress it up, make excuses for it whatever. Now, this morning I have realised that I have not only, not beaten my addiction, and perhaps I never will, but I have actually just transferred that addiction to something else, anything else as long as it wasn't alcohol.
For the last couple of days I have been edgy, short tempered, jumpy, not happy or content in my own skin. Everything has to be done quickly with much haste. My mantre a few months ago about enjoying the moment has gone. I haven't enjoyed any moments this last week or so. Yes, I have enjoyed the end result of my projects but actually doing the projects I have found now joy, no satisfaction and no release. My nights have been plagued with nightmares all playing out in my head which has results in my waking up anxious, tense, my muscles and joints sore and generally just exhausted. I start each day wanting to run away from my nightmares and immerse myself in another bloody project to keep my mind and body from feeling anything. This morning I woke up and realised that I have just transferred my addiction. I have transferred it to caffeine, another, again perhaps more socially accepted drug, but a drug all the same. I wake up tense and sore, the fibro always takes a hold during the first part of the day. My body straight away tells me I need coffee and that is how my day unfolds with one to and then three cups of coffee first thing in the morning. I never used to be like this. When I woke up with dry mouth and that fuzzy feeling you get when you have had wine the night before, I would drink tea. Lots of tea in the morning, and juice and also lots of boiling water in a mug. I would tell myself that my body needed to hydrate and that I was being ever so nice to it drinking my hot water. In the morning, Neil would bring me a mug of hot water and it would be perfect, it would cool after about 20 minutes and I could take all my medication with it and it would kick start my day, as everyone know the benefits of starting the day with a mug of water right? it was cleansing, kick starts your metabolism, hydrates your skin, hair , nails and eyes and generally its thought to just have so many benefits. I thought if I drank my water it would rid me of the wine of the night before, and perhaps it did. However, since I am now on day 77 my addiction has transferred to coffee and lots of it. Is it not the coffee and the endless cups of tea in the day that is feeding my body with caffeine to keep going, is it not the caffeine that makes my body not be able to relax and just sit? Is this why I am tense? Yes, I think so.
When this lockdown started, I went through a stage where I attempted to give up. Matthew brought me home decaffeinated tea bags and decaffeinated coffee and for the first day I was fine. Then the headache started. A dull ache all around the side and front of my head that tablets wouldn't touch. I now know that this was caffeine withdrawal. After a few hours of this, the craving for one decent cup of coffee kicked in and then the odd comment to one particular friend on the phone about my giving up caffeine and the battle was lost. " Dawn, you can't give up everything you know? Why on earth do you want to give up caffeine as well?" this comment and the nagging headache coupled with 3 kids and the stress of the situation we found ourselves in, made me make that cup of coffee that I craved and made my headache disappear almost instantly. 2 weeks later and the coffee and tea intake is worse than ever, including the chocolate in the night. My anxiety is through the roof, I am tense and in constant fight or flight mode. Gone has " enjoy the moment" or live for the present. I can't remember the last time I meditated...... My nights are plagued with vivid dreams always and nightmares often, generally bits of my past playing out and combining and intertwining with parts of my present. The dream I had last night played out Adrian, my second husband an abusive partner who I think I had a co dependency on him. He was back in my life with Ailysha and Suzanne. How mad is that? I wake up sweating and very relieved to be awake yet absolutely shattered and craving a sleep where I don't dream.
Today I woke up with the realisation that the caffeine must go. Along with the alcohol so must the caffeine, if I am to lose this anxiety, to calm my brain then this is what I must do. Perhaps I should do it gradually though, maybe just go down to one cup of coffee a day, for a week and see how I go. I am not going to seek approval from my friends, or my family. I need approval from me. I need to do this for me, I need to rescue me from this constant anxiety and to do this I need to remove the drug from my system and this time I am prepared, the headache is bound to hit around this afternoon or perhaps tomorrow so in light of this I am going to research caffeine addiction and arm myself with knowledge and so this brings me to this morning. Sat here, on the sofa, drinking a huge mug of hot water and feeling relieved yet exhausted. The nightmare I had last night brought back lots of memories. Memories that I keep hidden, I don't like to think of them after all, my life has moved on now, I have 3 more children and a new husband. However, that tight feeling I woke up was very real and its fresh in my head and probably will stay fresh until this afternoon when the dream will start to fade. But I am going to learn from this one.
I am going to try to be nice to myself for the next few days. I am going to minimise my interaction with facebook and social media. I am going to try not to constantly seek approval from my friends and family. I am going to sit. I am going to sleep, I am going to relax and spend time watching telly, going for walks and reading with the kids. No more projects for a few days, my project is going to be to get the caffeine out from my system and give my body a rest. To get addicted to something that is going to help my body and not constantly punish it by things I can't control. I am going to research addiction and arm myself with the knowledge that that headache which will come won't last . This is my gift to myself and to my children so, for me I may be on day 77 of no alcohol but I am on day 1 of no caffeine and day 1 of the rest of my life.