The Black Dog

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

Since last weekend I’ve had the week off work, spent time with my girls and my mum for her birthday and generally been quite lazy. All ok until the weekend when my mood took a nosedive after going to a friends barbecue Saturday night. I think it had started it’s descent Friday actually when I didn’t go to a party. Went to the cinema with C instead to see Once upon a Time in Hollywood but was disappointed. Didn’t grab me and transport me anywhere – I could appreciate the style and the acting etc but I was a bit bored. The feeling of missing out crept in. Saturday had a good day doing stuff with my youngest daughter. Headed over to friends with our Becks Blue about 7. I’d not done any mental preparation for dealing with it; probably because after last weekend I thought I didn’t need to. Big mistake.

I was still wearing shorts and no make up and my friend hosting had a dress on and looked gorgeous. Immediately felt under-dressed. Mistake number 2. Others arrived and it was all ok. Friend’s new man kept offering us rum punch but that didn’t bother me. Food was a long time coming as it often is at a BBQ so everyone had a few drinks. Had some good conversations but also felt really bored by others. I noticed how much people talk about drinking and alcohol – not for the first time. Long conversations about preferring less acidic wine now – ‘it all rots your stomach’ I wanted to interject but that wouldn’t have gone down well. A comment about how everyone needs to get pissed once in a while, from someone who doesn’t actually drink much – the queen of moderation. ‘It is possible to enjoy things sober’ I said but no one really heard me.

As the evening went on I was clock watching and thinking about leaving. I couldn’t help noticing how self centred and boring some of my dearest friends can actually be. The food was great and a welcome distraction. Others went to powder their noses and we left about 10.30. No one tried to persuade us to stay thank god.

Sunday morning woke up feeling really down for the first time in ages. Saw my sister who’s visiting my mum and as always talked quite a lot about family which made me feel worse. Moped about most of the day. I managed to not have a fight with C though I was making negative comments about being trapped in a place I don’t want to be, wanting to move to the countryside, feeling oppressed by the city etc. We’ve had these conversations before. C thinks it’s about looking for a geographical cure but I think it’s where the real me would be most at ease. I’m a country girl at heart. It took a lot of drugs and alcohol to make me an urban animal.

There are lots of reasons why moving isn’t an option now so no point dwelling on that. I tried to figure out what was behind my boredom last night and low mood today. Feeling left out? In part yes but I didn’t want to join in. Projecting my sense of being boring onto my friends?

(This post was interrupted by an iPad malfunction that deleted a paragraph, triggering a hissy fit from me and C finally losing his patience and pointing out that I’m magnifying negatives in my mind and that takes me to absolute statements like ‘everything is shit’ that have no basis in reality.) I got up, had coffee and cigarettes, took the dogs for a walk by myself and did some thinking.

So back to what is going on here. Maybe my friends are boring sometimes; getting wasted is boring in my mind now but if others choose to why does that bother me so much? Identification with my old self? For sure but to really be free of it I need to accept the past – I can’t change it. My negative feelings towards my friends show I’ve not come to terms with who I was. I’ve wasted a lot of my life getting wasted but there’s no point regretting it. I think I’m also berating myself for still smoking cannabis. I know that I’m still wasting time and energy I could put to better use. I’m doing a half arsed job of being sober; stuck in limbo between the denial of intoxication and full sobriety. I can’t get the denial back and maybe that’s what I envy the most?

I took a different path from usual on the walk with the dogs. I realised I’ve not been cultivating the new mental paths; gotten lazy because I don’t want to drink now. That’s the beginning of the journey, not the final destination. I’ve abandoned my toolbox, not been doing much yoga, meditation or practising gratitude. These new paths will quickly become hard to find if I don’t make a point of using them and situations that remind me of the old paths will become difficult to manage leading to negativity and unhappiness. I’m lucky that I’m good at a lot of things and I don’t tend to stick with things I’m not good at. I’m not very good at being sober yet. I need to work at this; it’s not going to just happen without effort. The difficult stuff is where the learning will be. I have to tread those new paths over and over before they’ll become my default settings. If I keep seeing the source of my dissatisfaction outside of myself and the solutions in changing them I’ll keep coming back to the black dog of depression wherever I happen to live. As I walked this morning Shanti came to mind – chanted 3 times to bring us peace from the 3 sources of suffering we experience in life. Suffering from the world beyond our control, suffering caused by others and the suffering we bring on ourselves. My black dog is fed by my mind and only by working on my mind will I ever be free of it.

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  1. Always, always, love reading your posts, I tend to make a slow meal of them, very enjoyable. Thanks for this… when I read your posts I imagine us sitting and chatting together, which I just love.

    I think it must indeed be hard in the city. Also you are doing a lot of hard things that I am not, so kudos for doing it successfully (i.e. not drinking)! Exposure to drinking friends all the time… I don’t know if I could do it. These days I’ve been glad when my old drinking buddies don’t invite me over. More than anything it’s the vibe of discomfort I sense from them… though that perhaps originates in me. I don’t think so, though. It’s more like they don’t trust me anymore. And I understand that… I used to be much the same, in terms of not feeling I could let loose around them. I remember actually feeling relieved when people who didn’t drink much “finally” left.

    I wonder about the cannabis… to be honest I think that must indeed be a huge factor… because you might not really be getting the full-blown benefit that total sobriety offers in exchange for the hard stuff? I actually think I take that aspect of total sobriety far too much for granted (which in the past led to my repeated downfall)… I keep forgetting that I am truly clean in body, and therefore, more so in mind and spirit.

    “I’ve abandoned my toolbox, not been doing much yoga, meditation or practising gratitude.” – when I read this, a bell went off for me: This morning was the first morning in a few days, that I’d picked up all those tools again. I now remember why I was so lazy today. It was because I’d decided to give myself a break and do some much-needed puttering. Right after saying my gratitudes, making myself exercise, do a bit of yoga, go for a run and listen to an inspiring podcast. I felt *good* today… truly good… and I think using that old toolbox must have been why, now that you mention it. So thanks for the reminder of that.

    I love reading the way you think, which is always very articulately, and I love how you include the parts about C, too funny and he sounds (annoyingly, perhaps?) on point! 😄I think you must love him lots to write him this way. My husband is much the same, at his best, which is part of what I love about him.

    Whoa that was a long ramble! (Imagine how I was when drinking! 😆)… nearly deleted most of it, but eh. If you’re still reading, hugs, forgive me for waxing over-long, and nighty-night. :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thanks for this! Yes it’s like we’re having a chat about it all! I agree with all you’re saying. Going to get myself in a routine again, do my yoga etc, timetable time outdoors, sober socialising, writing and work and squeeze out the smoking time in the next few weeks so I’m ready to quit. Set a short goal and read Allen Carr again! Also remember feeling the relief when the lighter drinkers leave – I think part of why I’m struggling is I don’t want to be that person but I am now. Maybe I won’t see them in those situations anymore. I think the discomfort vibe can come from others – not everyone for sure but I’ve felt it when I’ve been completely ok with a situation. Your blog really perked me up today! You sounded so relaxed and cool about it all – hope you had fun! Hugs back xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I love the chat! This is something I don’t get offline so I really enjoy it. :))

        I hear you about building up readiness to quit smoking — using whatever works to preserve progress in the alcohol-free department is major.

        “I think part of why I’m struggling is I don’t want to be that person but I am now.” — that’s it exactly! That’s been my issue too. But it’s crazy, I’m realizing there is a whole sober world out there (that doesn’t even advertise being sober), living all the time just next and even “within” the “partying” world, which I have basically completely been ignoring (or wishing would go home early 😆)all this time. It’s a whole different form of socializing but one that is ultimately far more fulfilling, also on a global-impact level I think, if not always *immediately* more fulfilling. That’s what the evening was like for me last night actually. Also, I was thinking about what your city/country dilemma and what your husband said about it and while I am a country girl at heart like you, so definitely completely on your side with that one 😉- I also have to agree with C. Aside from the wonderful ability to connect with nature, the country can be a great way to isolate – and to also meet up with a lot of other folks who enjoy boozing it up. Or it can be a place to connect with folks who don’t drink much at all. Probably, in other words, much the same as the city in that regard. I sometimes think I’d like to be closer to a city, then I would attend meetings and try to reach out more, to sober communities, but in actual fact I doubt that’s true. We lived in Cambridge for nearly two years recently, and I was already thinking about going completely sober then, and I certainly never made any moves in the sober-social (e.g. AA) direction for the same reasons I haven’t yet here in the country – basically, ego, introversion, time, excuses, excuses. Except here in the country I mostly use the excuses of distance and time, which does make my ego feel a lot better. ;))

        Thanks so much for your kind comments about my blog, seriously made my night last night! As for me I’ll be looking very much forward to your next post.🤓😁 😊xoxoxo

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think part of me does want to isolate as that seems easier right now but in the long run that won’t work as a template for sober life. I actually think quite a few of my friends do sober socialising sometimes – it’s me that’s only really engaged with the drunken stuff 😂😂 time will tell which relationships survive. I know I have to be at peace with myself before I make any major decisions and we can’t move due to work and family stuff anyway for at least a few more years – thank you for your thoughts – really helpful and look forward to your next post too. 😃😃

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That was me too, about engaging with the drunken side of things! 😂Yes time will tell indeed… though I’m finding that the old ones which I thought were not surviving are now morphing into something else… not as involved but still there really. Probably better all in all. xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved your post. As someone about to quit I had a final fling Barbecue on Sunday and got completely wrecked but how you wrote about feelings being sober mirrors exactly how I felt when I last tried sobriety. It’s a tough road alright but ultimately we’ll worth it. Looking forward to reading some of your other posts.


  3. I’m enjoying your blog and just wanted to say hi, and thanks. I’m currently 95 days sober and I think I’m in a very similar place to you (mentally). Unfortunately I did my blog in my name and I’m now wishing I had done it anonymously as there is so much more I want to say but feel I can’t. Anyway, loving the blog, loving the honesty and empathising with the struggles. Keep it going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andy! I still think about people I know reading it and am mindful I can’t write about some stuff as it’s not just my story – my children in particular so I don’t feel completely anonymous – it helps me a lot to write and if someone else gets something from it too that’s a nice thing -I’ll check your blog out and keep going too! X

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very similar sentiments Andy! Oh the incessant internal dialogue about drink – losing that has been one of the best things! I’m at just over 200 days now and the 1st 100 were harder for sure – look forward to hearing how you’re getting on x


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