Living Alone

It’s been a while since I last blogged but with the skies clearing and my mind more settled of late I wanted to share how things are going.

I’ve moved out of the family home and now live about 4 miles away from my wife and two daughters. It’s been a busy and stressful period (as house moves always are!) but most of the essentials are in place along with the majority of the household admin you are forced to endure (council tax, utilities, insurance, etc).

I’m not going to go into detail about my marriage because it’s not fair for me to share stuff which relates to my wife, who I will always love and respect – especially as the mother of our two little girls. All I will say is that I have to take responsibility for the way things have turned out and I now have a period of personal reflection and growth to do over the coming months and years. I’ve lost the family unit which I took for granted far too often in the past but I won’t lose my wife as a life long friend and the love and connection I have with my daughters.

Returning to work after 5 months away has also been a rollercoaster. It’s the longest I’ve ever spent away from my job in the 16 years I’ve been there so it’s been tiring and a bit anxiety inducing getting back into a routine and returning to the fold. Throw in the fact I’m still on tenterhooks with regards to my daughter’s recovery from her illness, the house move and the separation from my longterm partner and I’d be forgiven for being a little wobbly. That’s where sobriety is important.

It would be far too easy to feel sorry for myself or justify using alcohol to help take the edge off. Especially now I live on my own. Sure, the girls have started staying over now that I have furniture but they primarily live with their Mum so I spend a lot of time on my own in a new village, living a sober existence which limits the amount of time I see my friends (because going to the pub is the default location for socialising around here).

I’m running, I’m busy making this new place my own and Yoga class is still a fixture each week. I’m aiming to work back in the office much more to avoid the isolation that working from home can create and I’m seeing a Therapist (as I have done since just before Christmas). I’m doing a lot of things right and the grip alcohol has had on me in the past and on occasions in recent history isn’t there at the moment. I’m feeling pretty relaxed and optimistic about the future so it’s imperative I use that current mindset to springboard myself into a positive Summer. Even just seeing more of the Sun since the end of March has been a mental lift.

I continue to use the fundamentals of AVRT (Addictive Voice Recognition Technique) as my default approach to managing any feelings or internal conversations about having a drink because knowing my ‘beast’ – it’ll latch on to me when I’m alone and feeling a bit bored or reflective. I have little desire to drink socially these days and will generally be ok when I’m in environments where alcohol is present (despite making a conscious effort to minimise my time in those places) but it’s when I’m alone in the security of my own home that I find things ramping up a few gears. That’s when I have to dig in and use the tools which have served me so well since February 2021. Prior to me entering recovery 26 months ago I was drinking most days and binging pretty much every time I did pick up alcohol. I was bloated, depressed and at times suicidal. I felt more alone than I ever have despite having my loving family right under my nose. Yes, I’ve had a few moments of weakness in the last two years or so but thankfully they have been few and far between when you look at how much of this time I’ve spent sober and mentally stable. I won’t dismiss that progress and nobody can take that away from me either.

I can’t change the past but I can learn from my mistakes and experiences to shape my future. I will work hard on me every day. If I do that I know I can be the best Daddy, friend, family member and work colleague to the people around me.

Why I won’t drink at Christmas

“Christmas time, mistletoe and WINE”

Not this year. I managed to avoid drinking last Christmas during my first festive period in recovery and I intend to do it again. It hasn’t been an easy 2022 and along with the current family problems with my poorly daughter (who has spent a lot of time in hospital) I’ve also relapsed in 2022 albeit it was only two days of drinking back in May and I managed to pull myself back out of it.

Sitting in the relative darkness of our living room (the Christmas tree lights provide what we need) I talk to my seven year old daughter on our 10 year old couch for the first time in what feels like forever about how she is and what she foresees her short term future as.

This in itself will raise concerns with many of you reading this. Why is there such a deep conversation unfolding with a child so young? What will be gained from this?

She’s been through so much in the last few months and it has been so scary and confusing for her. It still is. All she really understands is that her brain is poorly and that means she is struggling to do things she used to do like eating, drinking, managing her emotions and not obsessing over basic day to day tasks that we don’t give a second thought to.

I suppose last Christmas was easier. I was still on an upward curve after navigating myself out of issues which nearly wrecked my life. By the time Christmas came around I was loving this new feeling of long term sobriety (albeit white knuckling it) and I finally felt like my marriage and relationship with my little girls was in an honest and happy place. Significantly my oldest daughter didn’t have the health issues either.

I used to love a drink over the Christmas Bank holiday. Wine and Baileys on Xmas Eve with the wife as we wrapped presents. Prosecco on the morning of the big day followed by lager, ale, wine and cava throughout the day. Boxing Day was a ‘lad day’ at the football or pub so you can imagine how messy that got.

Getting sober is easily the best thing I’ve done for myself in my 36 years on this planet. I used alcohol for 17 years and in the main it had a negative impact on me both physically and mentally so I will always shout loudly about how great it is being sober. Christmas as an adult was always about boozing so to return to a kind of pure innocence around this time of year is so enjoyable and fulfilling.

It would be far too easy to use the current family landscape as an excuse to drink and I doubt many people would blame me but I own my sobriety and I need to protect it at all costs. I know first hand the cycle alcohol creates. It’s an enabler for mental health deterioration and irrational decision making and thinking. I can’t and won’t allow myself to return to that king of behaviour especially when my family need me so much.