Alcohol – Part 2

free spirit

Yesterday I mentioned I wasn’t successful in quitting smoking and had decided I wasn’t going to attempt it for the foreseeable future.

I have realised smoking doesn’t actually hinder me or stop my growth and so I would keep this addiction on the backburner for a while whilst I concentrated on being happy, especially now I have found a way to reduce the cost of this “filthy habit”.

I realise I may pay for that decision later, however if I do, I will just have to handle it.

My life has changed dramatically though since quitting the addiction that is drinking alcohol and I am conscious I wrote an entry previously leaving some realisations yet to be shared.

Now that I have quit for five months, I have had time to reflect on the effect it has had in my life and so I thought I would try and share my realisations on the subject.

More and more recently I have found myself in situations where I have thought how lucky I am to be free from this poison. This legal, socially accepted, if not pushed, poison.

The reason why I felt so lucky is because I know, now that I have decided never to touch a drop again, alcohol will never cloud my thoughts, feelings and perception ever again.

I know I am not free from being clouded, however, it will not be due to alcohol which, to me, is the best way to lose control, even if for a minute, and which can affect you the day following a heavy drinking night, where your body is still under the influence of its intake and your mind is somewhat still fuzzy and your thoughts not clear, or the rest of your life.

Since quitting, I have been forced to handle my emotions head on.

No more hiding behind the veil of a fuzzy mind, inhibitions lifted by dutch courage intake.

No more feeling embarrassed about something I said or ashamed of my behaviour, putting it down to drinking too much as my excuse to be forgiven by others.

No more troubled thoughts going around and around in circle, being revisited time and time again and yet never addressed.

From now on, I am as much in control of who I am as I can be. My thoughts are purely conscious, everything I feel is as a direct result of my clear consciousness, no longer being escaped or hidden.

Every fear, anxiety, low point, excitement, happiness or love is felt and processed as I go along as I am no longer escaping myself with the “help” of this particular drug.

I can no longer have a drink to “relax” when I go home after a tough day at work.

I no longer blurt out unprocessed thoughts when I should be quiet instead.

I no longer wake up wondering how I came across the previous night.

I no longer numb the fear or the passion within.

I now listen fully to my emotions and try and understand them. “Am I feeling stressed at work? ok, how do I change that?”, “this person’s comment has made me defensive, why is it?”, “I feel anxious about this situation, what is making me feel this?”.

Facing emotions heads on is such a liberating feeling 🙂

Although I wasn’t an alcoholic, I have now realised how much I have used alcohol to numb my emotions and thoughts in the past 20 years.

I think this is a reason why we all drink: wanting to escape ourselves.

Turns out, my Self is actually a pretty cool person to get to know.  And living with her is great fun 🙂 And since all I am is a standard basic human being, which we all are, I am sure you would find that too, about your Self, if you gave it a chance.

Saturday was my first outing as a non-drinker at a big social event, my best friend’s wedding.

The beauty of not drinking is you can drive yourself to such events – it is a priceless bonus as it means you are free – free to leave when you are ready. I have always made sure since starting this journey that I had an escape plan. If ever I am in a situation I am not feeling comfortable, I need to know I can just leave before I decide to attend. Being able to drive allows for this.

I wasn’t anxious to attend as I had it all planned -planning is a great way to crush anxiety I have found – and it was my best friend’s wedding, a day I was excited to attend. The party after not so much but I would leave whenever I was ready.

It started well enough, I was lucky to sit at the “rowdy” table, no kids at the table and a few dear acquaintances, people I felt really relaxed with and with whom I had partied before, plus a new lovely girl, whom my best friend had asked me to keep an eye on as she was anxious being at the wedding unaccompanied. I had great fun 🙂

The rowdy table of course being a synonym for the drinking one, and they were all very pleased they had a non-drinker at the table, joking it would be more booze for them. I felt happy they took me in, the “boring non-drinker”, very easily and happily.

It was all fun and games for a couple of hours before I started to notice some changes in people’s behaviour which changed the dynamics, for me anyway as they became blissfully unaware of their behaviour, I guess the intended outcome of drinking.

As it got rowdier rowdier, at times embarrassing, and more wine was being brought as it was being request, it became less fun, alcohol became the centre piece of our table. Even going as far as “making friends” with the waiting staff to ensure we were in their good books and would ensure our wine wouldn’t run out.

Conversations became louder as each was desperate to be heard over the others and no-one was really listening. It became hard work to follow, let alone to contribute.

At that stage luckily there was to be a break in the proceedings between the day party and the night one, and I set off to go and check in with my B and B.

When I got back the evening side had started.

A friend of mine, a non-drinker out of personal choice too incidentally, was there and I pretty much spent the evening chatting with him, tucked away on some comfy chairs we found, away from the action, checking in occasionally on my table buddies who had moved on to a garden table, ensuring the bottles collected during the afternoon reception came with them (and possibly a few they may have collected left over from the tables around), when I would go for a smoke.

This is where the “fun” started for me.

From a quiet distance, I was able to observe what I used to be like at parties/social events. And I got to fully appreciate where I am now.

I also developed an immense sense of compassion watching my drunk friends. I hadn’t expected that. All their insecurities were laid bare in front of me. Very insightful.

I also enjoyed some fun and interesting conversations with other guests who weren’t so much into drinking. Including one with the MC who had been intrigued and wanted to talk to me more about this non-drinking thing of mine, whilst sipping some white wine, “I’m just allowing myself a glass now as it is the end of the evening” he felt the need to justify to me when I hadn’t even cared.

I think I decided to go when one of my drunk friends’ new boyfriend was giving me clear, in a drunk kind of way, signals he fancied me. There are some touches that tells everything. I felt so grateful of my decision at that point. He was absolutely gorgeous, just the type of man the old drunk me wouldn’t have been able to resist under the influence.

Incidentally, I had had my doubts whether this chap was the right one for her before I met him, through conversations I had had with my friend when sober at the hen weekend, that night I found whole new reasons why this was the case.

So off I left, glad to see a bed, it had been a tiresome (and good) week.

The problem I have with alcohol and people is I believe people should take responsibility for themselves. Alcohol gives them an excuse to act like kids.

I am an adult now, and although I regularly enjoy child like activities, I am fully aware I have responsibilities as an adult to behave like one. That means facing myself.

I have developed little patience for people who haven’t realised that yet. And I care not to be involved in their debauchery or maladjustment.

I want to connect with people who are not afraid of who they are and who can communicate freely without needing their inhibitions lifted.

Inhibitions are there for a reason: they define boundaries.

Understanding and respecting boundaries provides you personal freedom, safe in the knowledge that your freedom will not infringe on others’.

blaze

 

 

 

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My problem with Booze

Twice in my life, I have stopped drinking completely because I felt I needed to. 

The first time, some two weeks after my husband left me, the second three months ago, I can’t remember the date, nor do I care.

Each time, I had an awakening.

The first time, I didn’t want to believe what I felt and so a few months later, I started drinking again to mask how I felt about life. Once I was out of my depression, alcohol became part of my life again and I started drinking to “feel better”.

After the first time, I attended an AA meeting and was appealed by what I saw.

First of all, it isn’t God’s responsibility to get you out of the clutches of alcohol, it is yours.

Secondly, by forcing yourself not to drink at all, you let alcohol rule your life, yet again.

These days, I understand the term “appreciation”and I can now appreciate a nice beer. It’s not about moderation or abstinence, it’s about appreciation. Then alcohol doesn’t control your life.

I haven’t met many people in this life who understand that.

Because of my past history with alcohol, I have decided never to drink with friends, keeping the occasional beer I drink as a private pleasure. So far, it has worked really well, I haven’t wanted a beer very often, and when I have, it feels as it should do. I don’t even feel any effects at all, just the joy of drinking a nice cool beer. One.

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I could go on and on about how dangerous alcohol is but there’s no point. Those with a problem deep down know they have a problem. Up to them when they decide to quit abusing it and start appreciating it. I did it all on my own, I’m pretty sure they can too…if they really want to 😉

Cannabis

Something has been bugging me big time recently and I just don’t know what to do about it.

At the moment, I am learning to “choose my battles” carefully. As I mentioned in my Post about the challenges of staying positive, I cannot change the world, I know that and so I try to do what I can in little ways to better my little world, hoping that if everyone starts doing the same, eventually, it WILL have a ripple effect and the world may start changing for everybody (my world is already changing for the better). L’espoir fait vivre.

However there is a subject that I feel extremely strongly about and I just don’t know how to approach it to make a difference, and it is starting to sadden me: Cannabis.

I used to smoke pot, a reasonable amount. I used it only in my private life and went about my professional life without it. I became a master at it, I knew how long the buzz would last so I was “back to normal” before work started for instance, or was able to drive home after a meet up with friends.

I could take it or leave it, and had many years without and then I would start smoking it again and for a few months, then stop again,

When I lived in Canada, it became part of my everyday life. I was happy to smoke it alone (my husband had knocked it on the head after we had a bad experience whilst having a dinner party), and I would have a few drags of a joint before taking my dog for a walk before work.

Smoking it was actually a very uplifting feeling for me in the morning. I would set off with my dog for long walkies by the river and marvel at the beauty of the world. I loved hearing the birds tweeting and watch the Sun rise, with my heart full of hope and joy to be alive and living in this wonderful part of the world (Alberta, CN). I took some amazing pictures too during that time.

I could walk for hours in that wonderful state of mind, I’d meet people along the way and have chats here and there, I really felt so good.

In the evenings, I would use it to level my moods. If my husband came back from work and things didn’t go well, I’d go and have a few drags and come back all relaxed and happy. And so the evening could start again on a better footing.

With friends, I smoked it to replace alcohol, I much preferred being stoned than drunk. When Drunk, the truth would spurt out of me, often without care or tact, and I could often upset people. When stoned though, I was a very different person. Everything and anything interested me, being around me then was a whole different experience.

All this stopped for me when I went to share a joint with a friend after my husband and I split up. I had two drags on it, and hoped it would “take me away” from the turmoil my life had become (as two weeks earlier my husband told me he didn’t want to be with me anymore and then told me he wanted to be with my best friend). Things were complicated at the time and that girl was not the best choice to have that joint with (she was also one of my best friend’s closest friends).

There were issues between her and I and within minutes of having had those drags, I felt threatened and wanted to leave. She wouldn’t let me (trying to make me stay by force) and I suffered a panic attack, my first.

The experience freaked me out and I decided I had to stop smoking pot to deal with what was going on. So I did. That was two years ago. And I haven’t missed it at all since.

So it’s fair to say, apart from the last one, I had a very positive experience smoking pot, and it doesn’t appear to be addictive.

Yet, I have a problem with it now. I have a problem with anything that alters your mood that isn’t natural, and Cannabis, to me, comes under that category.

I have no doubts that it has its benefits, any natural product does, and yes, maybe it can help with pain relief, some say even help with Cancer. Fine. But let’s be honest, it isn’t what the majority of the people campaining to legalise it use it for.

The worst of all, it is being used by people with Mental Illnesses, proclaiming it levels their mood when nothing else has worked. And now, I see some top doctors are coming out saying it’s ok to use it.

It worries me.

On the Mental Health side, to me, it’s a chicken and egg situation. I have a feeling deep down that Cannabis actually creates a lot of the mental health issues there are around. Most sufferers I know are smokers, or previous drug takers and so it’s hard to see what came first.

Now, I also understand the financial side, as most campaigners seem to have latched on to that aspect of it = if it’s legalise it can be better controlled. I am actually rather amazed that Governments haven’t jumped at the chance of making more money out of people’s misery (I guess maybe they are happy with the income they get from cigarettes and booze already).

I also understand the argument about how people can get sent to jail for possession and sometimes the sentence is inappropriate compared to other crimes, when really Cannabis is not a big deal (its effect on behaviour being far less damaging than the effect of alcohol), and people should be free to do what they want.

I just don’t understand why people don’t see that smoking pot is yet another way to mask reality: they feel they are unable to cope with life without it.

I will admit I was a bit worried when I stopped that I would loose this wonderful feeling of well being I experienced walking my dog. Soon after I stopped, I also suffered from depression (for the first time in my life) and so it made me think maybe I should have carried on smoking pot as I never felt depressed then. But instead, I faced my life. And eventually came out the other side.

These last few weeks, I have started to feel the exact same feeling of well being I had when I was smoking pot.

I have started to love doing the exact same things I used to love doing while stoned. Walking a friend’s dog, marvelling at nature, snapping away anything that catches my eyes, chatting to random strangers, and best of all, I have a great big smile on my face when I do these activities.

How did I get there? I believe it’s because I sorted out the issues I was previously hiding thanks for the pot and alcohol.

Yes, I guess this is what is bugging me about smoking pot. It’s another form of escapism. Is your life really that bad that you need pot? If so, deal with your issues, because they won’t go away until you do, Pot is only helping you cope better. It’s just another crutch.

Wanna be happy? Learn to live without crutches.

[I will talk more about Mental Health and drugs in the future]

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Are you an addict?

 

denial

 

Addictions have been on my mind a lot recently, especially since discovering I have a caffeine addiction.

There is so much I want to say on the subject though, but I am still learning more and more about it and I’d rather understand the problem properly before speaking about it.

However, I thought of something I wanted to share in the meantime.

How do you know if you are an addict?

Simples: stop whatever it is you do that might be an addiction for a week and see how it feels, physically and psychologically.

Push it even further: every day you badly miss what it is you are no longer doing, add another day to the week without.

That will give you a good idea if you have a problem.

This can be applied to anything you are doing over the norm: playing computer games, going to the gym, watching TV, drinking, alcohol or pop, eating chocolate, coffee, tea, smoking pot, gambling, sex etc

* You may want to check with your doctors before stopping some of the activities, the father of my friends who had a drinking problem went cold turkey after years of drinking and died within a week, his body couldn’t cope with the stress of alcohol withdrawal.

** I am not suggesting smoking because we all know smokers are addicted.

Closure

I believe true closure is the only way to real happiness.
 
Many people’s attitude towards life, other people and in particular themselves, is as a result of past hurt they haven’t been able to get closure on. Would it be work related, or relationships (with family, friends or loved ones). 
 
These experiences can make people bitter, aggressive, defensive, disillusioned, scared, or just plain miserable.
 
It took me two years to get closure after my husband left me. The ending was pretty brutal and unexpected. He then proceeded to find comfort in my best friend’s arms and I lost my mind the two months that followed, literally. I then moved country where I lived alone with barely any support apart from my family who lived in a different country and soon suffered from depression.
 
About three months ago, on a hangover day, I took stock of my life and started to see where I had gone wrong for the last 20 years.
 
The problem wasn’t people, the problem was me. I had low self esteem issues, and I took it out on other people, using alcohol and dope to “help” me cope with life.
 
So I started to take steps to correct my errors. The first one being stopping drinking completely, I had already stopped smoking pot about a week after the split.
 
This turned my life around, and I am now well on the way to a more positive, truly happy life.
 
In the last few days, I have finally been able to move on from what happened with my husband, both in my head and in my heart.
 
Today, I feel I got full closure on my separation.
 
A week ago my husband and I had an exchange about some information he needed my approval on for the divorce paperwork. They were asking what steps we took towards reconciliation, he suggested we put “extensive discussions”, I told him we should put the truth: “none”.
 
He was worried it would delay or halt the divorce process. I wanted to explain to him why I had wanted to put none but decided to tell him to go ahead with his suggestion.
 
This is what I sent him today:
 
Subject: About the “steps taken towards reconciliation” wobbles
 
Or whatever it was they asked. I’m sorry I had a wobble. Guess I still had issues about feeling cheated that you never gave us that chance, by making your mind up well before actually taking action and then jumping into xxx’s arms. I had actually drafted a whole email explaining how I felt and why and decided to only send you a line in the end…I am learning to let go of what is really none of my business (in that case your reasons for your choice of actions).
 
It was good in a way that this happened (the question about reconciliation), it made me think about it and deal with it. Guess that’s the only reason why all I feel about us splitting up these days is sadness. But sadness is a good feeling really. It’s what you should be left with when you loose someone you love without having any control over it. I feel sad when I think about my cousin, my grandmother, my dog, my cat and others who have left my life whom I loved and I will never be with again. It’s an ok feeling really. It shows they meant something to me and it makes me appreciate those still in my life all the more. You meant a lot to me, and I am sorry I could never appreciate you, because of my issues that I hadn’t dealt with.
 
Looking back to be honest, what you did that night was the best thing you could have done for me. It’s made me re-assess my life big time, and now I have got rid of the addictions, I am slowly discovering who I am, and finding things to get involved in that really give me a lot of joy and enthusiasm and I am really quite excited to discover I actually have a good heart and able to find my own pleasures without relying on others or drugs/alcohol. 
 
I am also realising that the only person I can and should ever rely on is myself and it’s up to me to make sure my life is a good one. It is quite empowering. I don’t feel needy anymore, which always was a big problem of mine. Hard emotionally at times because I also have to deal with situations that need addressing (like changing existing friendships), but the end result always makes it worth it: not letting people with issues affect the way I feel and my life, yet keeping them in my life. But I am doing it with sympathetic and honest approach this time rather than brutal and judgemental. So far so good….because I don’t want to hurt anyone in that process, your happiness should never be at the cost of someone else’s. 
 
As I am changing for the better, so is my life. My relationship with people is improving every day, I no longer feel tortured or uncomfortable with some situations, as I am dealing with each as they arise. Even work is getting better every day, I don’t think I have ever been happy in a job before but I can sincerely say I am now, it is such a great feeling 🙂
 
Yes, life is getting better and better and I have you to thank for it….thank you 🙂 
 
x

Being positive is a process

creation

I have been struggling to find a way to start this blog. There is so much I want to write about but, when you are in a positive place, revisiting tough subjects is the last thing you feel like doing.

So I thought I would talk about being positive. I guess this blog will show my journey to living life positively.

As my About page mentions, I have gone through quite a ride in the last two years. This past week though something clicked in me and I can now say I am genuinely happy, probably for the first time in my life.

How did I get there? Well, I looked deep inside myself and saw what it was I had been doing that had prevented happiness all these years.

It’s not rocket science to be honest. Well it wasn’t for me.

First step I took was to get rid of the one thing that was preventing me from really feeling: alcohol. Like more and more people do these days, and many without realising it, I had taken refuge in the arms of alcohol to avoid dealing with my feelings. It was so much easier to forget about problems after a couple of drinks. Those couple of drinks became many more and more regularly. Until they became my social life. It didn’t help that the people around me had the same philosophy, so it was quite acceptable to have a couple of beers after work and wine with dinner.

But I realised a few months back that this escapism actually makes things worse. This will be an entry for another time though. The influence alcohol has in this world merits its own post.

So I stopped drinking and within a few days, I found all sorts of emotions surfacing that I needed dealing with. It’s funny actually, when you have a clear mind, you are more able to process your emotions. And there I had been, so scared of dealing with them, that I had tried to repress them.

Processing emotions is the only way to a more positive life. Why do I feel this way? How can I stop it?

Slowly but surely I was able to process the emotions that had been holding me back, all my adult life.

And suddenly, one day, I realised what had gone wrong in my life: me!

No more blaming others, no more feeling a victim. When you have that realisation, positivity just opens its doors. Because you realise you are the sole person in control of your life.

I know it’s cliché and you have heard it a million times. But to really understand it, you need to realise you are the problem. You are the one with issues that you need to address. No-one can do that job for you.

And something amazing happened, I realised why my husband left me (my issues didn’t make me a nice person to be around), and even why he went straight to my best friend (he had issues too). People don’t do hurtful things without having their own issues.

And I realised if I had dealt with mine before meeting him, I probably wouldn’t have gone there. It’s the other cliché of like attracting like.

I read a book once by John Gray, and the one phrase that has stuck in my mind ever since is “Your soul attracts what it needs to grow”.

When I look around what my life was like before we broke up, I see us surrounded by people who liked their drink too, as much as we did, one to the extreme that he beat their friend to near death (the chap actually died soon after), blaming the fight on an argument during an alcohol fuelled night. I see people who smoked pot, as I did. I see people struggling to find their purpose. I see broken people.

Now I look around, and yes, there are still people struggling (because let’s not forget that is the problem with the world) but none are drinkers and pot smokers for instance. And the drinkers I do know know they have a problem and are quitting too.

My life is changing for the better because I am changing for the better. Simple.

Now, as the title suggests, being positive is a process. Once you get this realisation, at first you can be very excited, and soon you will come across situations that deflate you, or cause you trouble. That’s when the process truly starts, how you deal with those situations. Either you go back to the old you, disappointed that you couldn’t do it, or you realise that this is life. There will be situations that will test you. All because that’s the problem with the world, it’s full of people with their own issues, and most are in denial.

That’s where I am at now. At the very beginning of my journey to living a positive and happy life. I am learning to deal with situations that might upset me or make me anxious.

I am lucky though because I am starting from a clean slate, being single, having only a handful of friends and doing a job I love. When you start working on yourself, you need space and minimum influences from others to get clarity about your emotions.

So this is where I start my journey. So far so good 🙂