Exciting things are afoot in the world of sunbeam sobriety.
I have decided to collaborate my counselling skills and knowledge, with the lived experience of my sober journey. I’m starting up my own business.
What exactly is a sober facilitator?
Since getting sober, I have always wanted to give something back. I have waited for three years, not only until I achieved my degree, I waited until I was established in my sobriety, so I can ethically and professionally offer my clients the best possible service.
The sober facilitator service launches on Independence day, which feels appropriate. I can support you in claiming back your independence from alcohol
Check out sunbeam sobriety on Facebook Twitter and Instagram
I missed May’s blog! I’m so annoyed with myself but I was busy writing a dissertation. So rather than beat myself up forever and quit blogging (like drinking Vicki would do) I’ve decided to forgive myself and carry on.
So that’s that, uni is over! Which begs the question what next? And the answer is I’m not entirely sure. But what I have been doing is reflecting on where and who I am today, opposed to when I started uni. My uni journey and sober journey have been very much entwined from the start and I haven’t known one without the other.
I would absolutely recommend anyone getting sober does a counselling course or at least has some counselling. The journey we go on into sobriety demands some difficult truths and deep insights but i fully believe this work I have done on myself is what has lead to sobriety sticking this time, there’s a saying in sobriety that is ‘feel the feelings’ but what does’t get mentioned so much is how do we learn to deal with the feelings? Hell, we have been numb for so long it makes sense to have support while we learn to deal with the feelings. I guess I’m lucky I had a bunch of trainee counsellors propping me up while i learned how to feel the feelings.
I was a defensive little bugger when I started uni, and wasn’t going to mention my sobriety I thought I could just get a long with life and not really think about. I was wrong! If i was going to do sobriety right I had to accept it as part of me and be proud of it! Not the dirty little secret I was treating it as.
So I started to embrace my sobriety, I shared it with a few people I was getting close to and I allowed it into my soul, sobriety was becoming a part of me. My clothes began to change, gone was the drab, bright colours began to reside in my wardrobe. I’m fairly sure on several occasions I turned up looking like I had jumped in my wardrobe wriggled about a bit and worn whatever fell on me, but I didn’t care I was finding out who I was. The more I embraced my sobriety the more confident I became, I wasn’t happy anymore staying silent and hoping I went unnoticed.
I began having opinions and valid ones at that, I was making friends and finally I realised I was happy.
Drinking kept me quiet, it kept me trapped, it took away my opinions, it took away my colours, life was grey and hunched over when I was drinking, sobriety was pink hair and big ideas!
So I am sad my time at uni is over, but forever grateful I got to do it. I guess now it’s time I grow up, get a big girls job and be a contributing member of society. But i’ll do it with happiness in my heart my sobriety held safely in my hand and probably with pink hair!
Its been a while since I have written on here. But I set myself a goal at new years to write at least once a month. Here is April
Covid – 19
My world like everyone else’s was turned upside down a few weeks ago, I first became aware of Coronavirus while we were visiting New York in January, it seemed like most other times flu makes the headlines, it probably wasn’t going to impact me too much.
Fast forward a few weeks and within 48 hours my placements were all cancelled at uni, then uni closed. I came home angry that day at what I thought was a massive over reaction, to find my 16 year old daughter in pieces that her GCSE’s had been cancelled. The thing she had been working towards for year had gone!
That’s when it hit me
I now understand that saying its like being hit by a ton of bricks, I felt my knees buckle and in that instant I almost walked straight out the door to buy wine, but I held fast and tried to calm the situation in my kitchen.
The next few days seem like a blur looking back but I’m fairly sure I fell apart, the kids continued at school for another couple of days and I cried, I struggled to get out of bed and I thought about wine…….a lot! I told myself there is no point staying sober when the world has gone to shit, and that was it, life I as knew it had gone. The first Monday morning of lockdown I got the kids up to do P.E with Joe and I cried, I felt scared, I felt confused and most of all I felt alone!
I was going through the motions without really connecting to the world around me, this disconnection is the wine witches best friend, it keeps us isolated and weakens our resolve, I’m lucky
I have good sober support online but I stopped checking in and pretty much stuck my head in the sand. Then came the anger god I was angry! Anger is a feeling that is very uncomfortable for me (most feelings are pretty uncomfortable for people used to numbing every feeling for years) one I don’t like dealing with. When it all seemed too much I began to recognise where I was…..
Grief and early sobriety
I was grieving, I like everyone else on the planet had suffered a big loss. According to there are 5 stages to grief
Made up of avoidance (yep) confusion (definitely) shock, fear (most certainly) and elation (not this time, but very normal). My urge to drink would have provided the perfect way to avoid what was going on.
Frustration, irritation (erm yes, anger was very prevalent), anxiety abso-bloody-lutely! I’ve worked out that when I feel anxious it quite often shows itself as anger (think fight or flight)
Overwhelm, helplessness and hostility yep all 3 usually at once
Struggling to find meaning ( yep) Telling ones story, i did this so much, i kept almost comparing how badly we had been impacted to how others had been impacted. this seems really selfish and self centred but its perfectly normal and can make us feel better if people hear us and we don’t feel so alone.
Finally we get to acceptance, this is often where we relinquish control, we accept that we are unable to change this situation and look for ways to find a new normal. I was so bloody relieved to get here but as is usual it didn’t last. That’s the problem with grief these stages aren’t linear. We can hop back and forth, feel them out of order and and all at once.
Looking for landmarks
I am a person who does not know her left from her right, this can cause issues but most of the time it is funny. When I travel, and begin exploring I look for landmarks to get me back to my hotel. Because not knowing my left and right affects my sense of direction I use this relatively successfully, what i couldn’t find when lockdown began was my landmarks, I couldn’t find anything familiar about where we were and worse I didn’t know how to get back to base.
Then it hit me
This was so like those early days of sobriety I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to recognise it. the similarities were staring me in the face, once again everything was different, I didn’t know how to be in this scary new world, anxiety, sleepless nights, confusion, loneliness, bargaining, denial. It strikes me now that I also grieved my drinking days in early sobriety but like a bad boyfriend it had to go. Finally I had found my Landmark, I had been here before and what I had to do was feel the feelings, trust the process and connect!
Connect I did
Starting with my sober circle, I got more active on my various platforms to connect to my wonderful sober buddies. Video calls began to uni friends and I began connecting better to those in the same house. I have just set up a Sunbeam Sobriety Facebook group in the hope of increasing connections as I see many sober warriors struggling with sobriety
Please reach out to your sober friends we have a tendency to lose landmarks and isolate when times get tough
And we all know connection is the opposite of addiction
Today I have woken up alone in a hotel room a few years ago this would have been reason to worry. However there is no drunken story to tell (thank goodness) I have in my sobriety recognised a need to get away so get away I have.
I am in my final few weeks of a counselling degree and the pressure is immense, I have four placements as part of my course where I offer counselling to individuals, I travel in excess of 250 miles a week just to do uni and placement, then I have children at home, a cocker spaniel and an ex husband. My world is a busy one, I wouldn’t change a thing but I recognised I was starting to struggle, my motivation upped and left, I lost confidence in my ability at uni and all round wanted to crawl under a rock. This went on for a few weeks and when I heard myself say I miss getting smashed I knew I needed to take action
I’m 2 and a half years sober so I wasn’t going to drink but the fact my brain was looking to escape was enough warning for me to grab the bull by the horns and take control.
I’ve cut back on my placement hours taking 2 of them to fortnightly placements which gives me an extra day off a week, I finally acknowledged that I need extra help at uni with my dissertation and final few pieces of work, so I’ve accessed that support, I’ve reached out to a few people saying I’m struggling which always helps and I booked a solo mini break.
I am currently on a coach trip to Durham and Holy Island, I have woken up today feeling rested and excited for the day ahead. Everyone at home is still alive and the house is still standing. It’s taken me over 20years to realise I need time alone to recharge, I realise this has most likely always been the case and my drinking to escape will be linked to this need. But physically escaping in a healthy way is more conducive to happiness than drinking ever was. When I look back I realise I judged myself harshly for this need for time alone preferring to berate myself rather than listen to my needs.
I will go home recharged and ready for the challenges heading my way over the next few weeks, my family will get a kinder happier me, my studies will get a focussed motivated me and my clients (who always get the best) will get a refreshed counsellor ready to support them.
We often deep down know what our needs are but rarely do we acknowledge them . It’s time to start listening to our needs, be kinder to ourselves and prioritise self care.
I have decided to get my 41 year old ass in to shape and add exercise to my routine. Many, many moons ago I was a happy outdoorsy kid who never stopped moving. I did really well a sports and could turn my hand to most disciplines.
Fast forward a few years and into secondary school, I began to get bullied and as my confidence took knock after knock so did my interest in most things.
School became about survival, and towards the end of my school career I just avoided it as much as possible. I would find any excuse to get out of lessons and that included P.E. The trouble with P.E was, they could get at me more, running round a field or a pitch I would be knocked over, kicked or walloped with whatever bat/ball/ stick we were playing with, and that’s not to mention the taunts in the changing rooms.
The lengths I went to, to avoid the bullies is unbelievable when I look back, and really quite sad. Maybe one day I’ll share those but for now looking back at terrified teenage me is just too painful. My over riding memory of my time at school is just bone crushing fear, I’d skive and get caught, then be in loads of trouble but even that was better than facing the torture of being bullied every day.
It’s taken me a long time to stop allowing those bullies to affect me and I suspect part of that pain was tied up in my drinking, alongside many other things. While I’ve been looking after myself much more in the last 2 and a half yrs, I haven’t really stuck at exercise. Maybe there is some block because of the bullies, maybe this is my last bit of self sabotaging behaviour or another way to not be kind to myself.
Whatever it is it stops here, I am committed to including 30 mins of exercise a minimum of 3x a week.
It won’t be pretty at times, I’ve just done my 3rd work out of the week and these old bones do not know what’s hit them, but I do feel better once I’ve done something.
I won’t be blogging about how I work my way down to a size 6, and be pictured in super tight sports wear at every opportunity. When I do include exercise in my blog, it will be about a middle aged woman just trying to shake off those taunts, from all those years ago, and hopefully end up feeling a little happier in her own skin
I am, very ,very excited this week. On Saturday I will be ticking something huge off my bucket list. At 9 am, Saturday morning, I fly to…. (drum roll please) fun city, the big apple, aka New York City!
I am in fact, so excited about this trip that I have barely slept for days and now feel bloody rubbish! I keep waking up with massive anxiety, I love travel and have had some amazing adventures since getting sober but, by god I struggle with the actual travel part of travelling. The anxiety, I have been feeling all week, has got me thinking about my first couple of weeks in sobriety.
They call it recovery for a reason
That first 10 day stretch into sober life was hard, really hard. I had some amazing support in the form of Kate Bee’s sober school and the wonderful Jan 17 grads. But in those early days, I would go as far as to say I was zombified (is that a word?) and I can appreciate how easy it is to give up, giving up in those first few weeks. When you drink and drink a lot, we get used to instant gratification. Quite often when we go a couple of days without booze and don’t feel amazing for the so called sacrifice we get disheartened, the wine witch whispers this ‘shit ain’t worth it’ and we jump back on the drinking roller-coaster .
What we don’t do is give our bodies enough credit, we don’t give allowances to our poor battered organs trying to recover from years of abuse, we want the same quick fix that drinking provided. I do remember feeling disappointed in those early days, the lack of sleep was horrific, I felt like a new foal, wobbling about unsteadily on legs that weren’t used to holding me up, even the daylight seemed too bloody bright
But like most things in life, amazing things happen if only we push through that discomfort. When I began my sober journey in Jan 17 I went about 6 weeks without booze, I pushed past those difficult early days and for the first time in a long time I began to feel good again. In fact I had forgotten what it was like to actually feel good. I’d been in some sort of permanent hungover fog for years, mostly without realising it, I just thought that was how life was supposed to feel, permanently tired and to be honest a little bit disappointing.
Don’t believe the myth
But then the doubt crept back in and I thought I couldn’t live without booze. I discovered the moderation myth and spent the next few months jumping on and off the moderation merry-go-round. Each time it was a little harder to come back from. Finally in September 2017, I realised I wasn’t living at all with booze in my life. I was barely existing, so armed with everything I had learned over the past months I stopped drinking. The rubbish feeling returned, the wobbly legs, the sleepless nights, the too bright lights and once again I pushed through the discomfort. This time when the wine witch whispered I told her in no uncertain terms to F**k off. After about 10 days I began feeling good again
The wine witch doesn’t really speak to me anymore, sometimes if I’m super stressed or tired, she’ll pop up ready to say something but shes easily squashed these days. I dumped her ass, shes toxic and she’ll take you down with her, like any toxic relationship she lies and is only out for herself.
New York baby!
Even though I am feeling lots of discomfort about this trip, I worry about getting to the airport, I worry about forgetting things, I worry about leaving my children (they’re old enough and have family around please don’t panic). I worry about pretty much everything till I check into my hotel at the other side, then I have to worry about finding my way round. But I do it, I push past that discomfort every time, because I know something amazing is at the other side. I see and do amazing things all because I stopped drinking and, after seeing the price of cocktails in NYC, I’m going to save a bloody fortune.
This trip is extra special for me because I am meeting up with a few wonderful ladies from my sober tribe, how amazing is that? This normal woman, from a tiny Yorkshire town, is flying to New York and meeting friends for brunch!! This stuff used to happen to other people, now I’m making it happen, I have the capacity for amazing things because;
I put down the booze.
I make no apologies for the amount of blogs coming your way about New York, this could well be a once in a life time trip, I’m going to record as much of it as I can.