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How I became and remain a motivated and Sober Parent
As I muddled through my mid forties, the stress of dealing with work and being a single parent meant that the way I dealt with every emotion was to get hammered every day to blackout. I was haunted that I was setting my young son Joseph up for a life battling addiction simply by the example I set. At the same time, I noticed that my mental abilities were significantly reduced and I could not rely on my memory. I didn't even realize that these two concerns were connected !
Squandering my own life was pretty shite, but affecting my then 6 year old son, took the guilt of being dependent on alcohol to another level. My drinking was causing me to be emotionally ‘absent’ from Joseph as he played inside whilst I drank and smoked myself stupid on the decking. At work I was becoming more and more muddled. My life felt like it was closing in on me. I was paranoid and had isolated myself to hide my shame. I relished drinking too much, too early on my own. Stress, hunger, boredom, fatigue, or simply it being Monday, were reasons to hit the bottle every day for seven years.
My cravings rocked up at 4pm and I’d rush to pick up Joseph so that I could start drinking AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! I was envious of people doing normal things like going for a walk early evening as I would be too unsteady by 6pm and slurring (not to mention stinking of wine and fags). My days ended at around 8:30. I'd go to sleep drunk in a down-hearted exhausted stupor until 3am when I would wake up sweaty, tired and panicky. My recycling box was a thing of shame which I had to hide.
A visit to my GP to discuss my suspicions that I had some sort of early on-set dementia revealed that the 3 bottles of wine I had admitted to drinking each week would impact not only my memory but was also putting a huge strain on my liver. I had a liver functioning test and was referred to a specialist organisation dealing in addiction.
It was in the run up to 50 that I found the strength to put my fears aside (drinking had become my only real interest, it was the only thing I was keen to do) and find a way to get free, get inspired and be inspiring but how? I started my own research because I now accepted that the 9 bottles of wine I was actually drinking each week were dangerous indeed.
I came across https://my.hellosundaymorning.org and stepped into a new safe world full of people like me. I could be home in the evening caring for my son while discussing my issues on-line. The drip, drip, drip of support enabled me to get an honest grasp of my situation as we set goals, got and importantly gave support to each other and I was able to learn from HSM members in AA and SMART recovery as well as on-line specialists like Veronica Valli(http://veronicavalli.com/). I gained clarity on the what, why, when and how of my addiction and started to demystify what alcohol was, or wasn’t, doing for me. From there I worked out an approach that worked for me to stop being an addict.
I was starting to take responsibility for my life but it was complicated and overwhelming. I needed to simplify things and so I made some bright line rules which are simply rules where there is no scope for wiggle room. My bright line rules helped keep me on track and were especially powerful when I felt overwhelmed by cravings. The biggest bright line rule was that if I couldn’t find a way to make Hello Sunday Morning work, no matter what, I would have to go to AA. This rule was fundamental to me being able to maintain an overall level of progress. I did have 'slips' but I made them a learning experience and was able to use the slips as the next challenge to win through on my journey to sobriety.
I logged on everyday setting small achievable goals that stretched me just a little. It was important to keep up the effort and break through the next barrier but also to think in terms of one day at a time. I had loads of light bulb moments where I gained more clarity. I became familiar with my triggers and how they were linked to different times of the day and week. I realized that I had been lying to myself that my life was incredibly stressful and I simply told myself that to validate my excessive drinking. My belief that I didn’t get hangovers was shattered when a binge while in my early months of trying to stay alcohol free led to 4 days of low mood, lethargy, stroppiness and guilt.
Veronica Valli, who blogged on the subject of parenting and recovery (http://veronicavalli.com/2015/08/are-you-a-sober-parent/) advised me to be honest and talk about my issues in an age appropriate way with Joseph. I told him that I stopped drinking because I wanted to be a better parent and he is so proud of me now. Inspiration also came from reading books like Blackout by Sarah Hepola, Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnson, and The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis which helped fill the evenings that used to be spent drunk.
Now I blog and post on the wonderful recovery site www.boozemusings.com and with the clarity of nearly 3 years alcohol free I am still on a daily basis finding new positives to being sober. At last I have found the energy and bravery to take the steps to find a new career (one that I like this time rather than what other people tell me it the sensible thing to do) and my life has begun to be what it should be about, a journey of exploration as opposed to one where I continually doped myself with alcohol.
This post was written by Clare1 for the Boozemusings Community. Clare1 hosts the Seventh Heaven Sobriety Society in BOOM https://www.boozemusings.com/ideas-from-the-room-of-boom
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