My first 5 steps

When I decided I was going to have a proper go at giving up the booze I knew it wasn’t going to happen easily or overnight so I needed to put a plan into place. Like I’ve said before, I’m in no way whatsoever qualified in recovery and what I say in these posts are just my experiences and personal thoughts. Everyone’s recovery is different so don’t take any of this as advice! God help you if you do, haha. It took a long time for me to accept I had a drink problem. My mum was telling me for years and I remember one night I was on the phone to her (again) telling her I was feeling crap and depressed, asking for answers and saying I didn’t understand why I felt like that so often. Obviously it was the drink. It’s unbelievable how much worse alcohol can make anxiety and depression. I still have anxiety now but it’s controllable and nothing like it was. My depression has been gone completely since I stopped drinking. I do think my depression was brought on because I was so anxious all the time though. Anyway, I was on the phone to my mum and every single time she’d say “you know what it is, Claire. It’s the drink! You need to stop drinking”. I always said I knew and would try and do something about it. Over the years I’ve spent hours and hours talking to AA councillors on the phone and searching for the answers online, reading self help books, going for therapy and all I needed to do was accept my drinking was a problem. I’d usually come off the phone from a lovely councillor who’d just probably stopped everything they was doing to listen to me harp on for 2 hours for me to hang up and tell myself “they’re talking crap” or “I’m not that bad”. I was convincing myself all the time I was the person unlucky enough to get the worst anxiety and depression in the world and really I was just to weak to admit I had a drink problem, because I knew it would be difficult to stop and I didn’t think I was strong enough to do it. If you’re reading this and think you might have a problem and are thinking of giving up. Honestly, if I can do it, you absolutely definitely can. I didn’t think I’d ever give up for a month but I have. It’s still early days for me but I can’t believe I’ve got this far. I don’t ever want to feel pissed again! That’s because being sober has made me feel happier and healthier than I ever imagined.

My plan went as follows:-

  • Delete the Facebook app from my phone

I needed to take away as much temptation as I possibly could. The weather was lovely and everyone was posting photo’s of BBQ parties and everything else they was up to at weekend. I deleted the app for the first 2 weeks.

Anyone who knows me well knows I’m lost without my phone and social networking! How was I going to cope without Facebook? A friend who was going through similar problems was posting from this app and I’d been following their progress for about 3 months. I downloaded it and signed up then found it’s basically a bit like Facebook but full of people in recovery from alcohol or drugs. So I still had a social networking platform that would feed my habit but I was getting help from the other users as well. There’s loads of little motivational steps to help you along the way which I used for the first few weeks and they really did help.

  • Find and go to a meeting

My anxiety is mainly socially related so this was definitely a difficult one for me. I decided AA wasn’t for me (for reasons I’d rather not write here) so I looked for a SMART Recovery meeting instead. I found one and turned up on the Wednesday night, nervous as hell and ‘needing’ a drink. I almost did a runner just before everyone turned up! Haha. All the people there are lovely and I was made to feel really welcome. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, you can just sit and listen. Big gob here couldn’t help herself! I left feeling chuffed that I’d gone and it was another step in my recovery. I don’t go anymore but that’s not a reflection on the meetings. I just don’t feel like I need them at the moment but I know where they are and I can go back whenever I want.

  • Avoid social events and keep myself busy

I know this seems ridiculous but I really don’t think someone with a drink problem can go to a social event that’s probably serving alcohol (because it’s everywhere these days) and expect to avoid having ‘just the one’. I didn’t go anywhere for about a month. I kept myself busy by walking 10000 steps a day, watching box sets, going for another walk, run, anything that would stop me wanting to go for a drink.

  • Choose wisely who you socialise with

After a month I needed to get out and be around other people and do ‘normal’ things. Not everyone understands my drink problem and I needed to surround myself with people who respected the fact I didn’t want to drink. I’ve spoken to my friend Fiona a lot about my recovery and I know she totally understands what I want and where I’m coming from. We arranged to go out for dinner after work. We chose a quiet place that served alcohol but we knew it wouldn’t be overcrowded, rowdy or full of drunk people (it was Friday). I can 100% say that Fiona saved me that night. I’d already convinced myself during the day that I would be fine having ‘just the one’ and that I could do controlled drinking. My mind was already playing tricks on me before I’d even left work for the day. We met outside and I said “I’m probably going to have a wine so if you want one, get one”. Obviously, Fiona was a bit confused and asking if I was sure. Of course I wasn’t sure but she wasn’t to know this. It was the easy way out because I still didn’t think I was strong enough to get through having a meal without ordering an alcoholic drink. It just doesn’t come naturally to me … “I’ll have a coke please”. The waiter asked what we’d like to drink and it was as though in a split second Fiona knew that I was about to ruin everything I’d done to stay sober and just as I was about to order a bottle of wine she interrupted and asked for 2 cokes! Hahaha. We had a lovely meal and both went home very happy. Fiona, you don’t know it but I absolutely wouldn’t have done it without you. I don’t even think I’d still be living on the Isle of Man if it wasn’t for you. We’ve been in touch every single day over the last few months and I’ve ranted on whilst you sit patiently listening for me to then ask how you are. Thank you so much for being there when I needed a friend. You’re a very special person ♥

So there you have it. There was no way in the world I was ever going to stop drinking unless I made changes. I didn’t have to make them forever. It was just for a short time until I felt confident enough to deal with each situation. I’m still not comfortable with certain places, especially if there’s a lot of drunk people around but I’m absolutely fine going out for meals and I know I’ll be fine with most places eventually.

One day at a time…

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend! Xxx

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