Confronting, fabulous, revealing, grounding, challenging, rewarding and exciting. Sometimes all within the same day! In short being sober is like being on a crazy roller-coaster ride that I never want to get off.
I feel quite nervous and vulnerable about this second book - more so than the first. I think this is because the first book was about a very specific aspect of my life - my relationship with alcohol - and I wrote it from a very strong standpoint of being delighted to be sober and wanting to help others.
There was an event that sparked me embarking on a new project to learn new coping strategies to deal with life, and that was my beloved step-father dying very quickly from cancer. This happened three years after I quit drinking and it was at that point that I realised I was woefully ill-equipped to manage my way through tough emotions. So I set myself a new project to learn tools and techniques (such as mindfulness, yoga, gratitude etc) to help me cope. I never intended for this project to turn into a book but about a year and a half after starting it I began writing it all out and here we are!
Members of the Living Sober community are being very warm and supportive about my new book which is no surprise because that's how we roll at Living Sober. It is the most remarkable place on the internet because it's full of people who are raw and emotional - digging deep to turn their lives around - yet the tone of our communications is unfailingly kind, supportive, warm, wise and empathetic. It's a very special little corner of the internet that's for sure.
There's a saying in recovery circles which is 'Putting down the drink is just the beginning' and that is the truth that I expose in this book - that after the hard work of getting sober is over (beating cravings, reframing your thinking and reshaping your identity as a sober person) most people find there is some further work they need to do on themselves.
I always get great tips and recommendations from my online community... we're constantly sharing resources we've discovered and tips on what works for us. For me the great book that really unlocked mindfulness for me was called Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. Also Ruby Wax's books on mindfulness are fabulous.
I have a range of tools and techniques now that I draw from to help me through my days. I use mindfulness techniques and draw from some of the overarching concepts of the practice regularly (such as acceptance and compassion), I practice gratitude with my kids, I get into the outdoors with my dog, I do yoga (and I am NOT flexible or limber!). I try really hard to eat and drink well - no alcohol helps! - but I do still fall into piggy eating habits which I'm trying not to do so much… sugar is a tricky one for me.
Every single thing I have done since I put down the bottle on September 6, 2011 has helped my family relationships. I am so much more deeply connected with my husband and kids now - and others around me. Most of all I'm more connected with myself and I think if you're working on that number one relationship (with yourself) everything will flow out happily from there.
No. All of my help has come from books or my peers online.
No I never went to AA, despite knowing it is incredibly powerful and effective. Mostly this is just because I found amazing support through my online networks. However, never say never... I've always said that if one day I feel close to relapsing I'll get myself to a meeting quick-smart.
For giving up drinking I heartily recommend Kick the drink easily! by Jason Vale or The easy way to stop drinking by Allen Carr. For the 'next stage' recovery stuff aside from the books mentioned earlier I recommend The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris and go listen to Tara Brach's free talks online - she's awesome.