Glittery Will Power

My biggest bug bear with AA has been how I perceived it to be that I was presented with two, and only two, options: follow the program to the letter or try relying on will power (the latter always spoken with a raised eyebrow, a knowing look “get it” and followed by a chuckle). I have tried so hard to “get it” and I’m still waiting. I am fully open to the possibility that I’m just too dumb to understand it, or not open to understanding it. I think I am. I try to be. I am not to my knowledge hiding anything, nor do I tell lies. Perhaps it just takes time before the penny drops. So I’ll be patient. I’m not ready for a new sponsor yet – actually, I’m not sure that’s true as I am one hundred gazillion million percent ready to commit to sobriety and live happy ever after, but was so put off that I’m leaving it for a while. The right time and the right sponsor will come along, I’m sure. I like fate, it’s been pretty good to me so I’m sure it’ll once again deliver, I have trust.

What just popped into my head was a bit from the Big Book that I was reading this morning. I woke up really early so grabbed the Big Book and my morning coffee (which, by the way, continues to be my absolute favourite thing) and sat reading on the sofa in hubby’s dressing gown as the world outside slowly woke up. I just love mornings and in particular that time of day. I sat there like that yesterday too as I got up with hubby who had an early flight to catch. But anyway, what came up (as it often does) was how we all tried will power and failed. We = us alcoholics. I think though that when it’s talked about in the Big Book it refers to how we fail at controlling our alcohol intake most of all, i.e. we intend to just have the one drink but end up in black-out over and over again, but it does also talk about how to stay sober you stay in AA. It does have a slightly ominous ring to it I find. Do this or you shall be massively, thoroughly, spectacularly fucked with bells and whistles.

So. As I tend to do, I thought about it. Of course, I was advised by my ex-sponser to NOT think and maybe one day I’ll learn to think less but that day is not today. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing I don’t know. Actually I don’t care, because I’m sober and I’m happy about that.

Here is a definition of what using will power means in terms of stopping yourself from doing something: 

“To exercise will-power is to actively try not to do the thing that you really want to do.”

And therein lies the answer to sobriety for me: I’m sober but I’m not using any will power whatsoever because I don’t want to drink anymore. I’ve said it before, but I imagine if I felt deprived somehow I’d still crave a drink and find being sober a real shitter. But I don’t. I have yet to find one single draw back to not drinking apart from discovering my day job is a slight waste of time when I’m forgetting to focus on its advantages. It was never about the reasons why I shouldn’t drink, I’ve not needed to give much thought to how bad it was getting, how it’d eventually kill me and how shitty I used to feel (mornings were nowhere NEAR as wonderful with hangovers). Those are of course all very good reasons not to drink, I’m not saying otherwise, but I’ve never drunk because of the reasons I shouldn’t. Hey, this thing will kill me, how splendid, pour me another please, butler! 

I drank because I thought it would give me something: add glitter to a good mood mostly. Up until quite recently (obviously – I’ve only been sober seven weeks) I still thought that those first few drinks were glittery. But they’re not and they never were. They added absolutely ZERO. Nor did any drink ever ACTUALLY relax me after a stressful day. Those were all illusions. Heck, I always wanted to drink dirty martinis because of James Bond alone – never mind that it tastes like shit. Anyway, alcohol is packaged and sold to us with imagery of sophistication, success and sexiness. It’s everywhere. You’d be fucking weird if you grew up in the parts of the world where alcohol isn’t banned e.g. because of religion and didn’t think it came with benefits.

So I think that’s starting to untangle the frustration I’ve felt each time I’ve felt like the AA mantras seem to suggest working the program as the only option next to will power, which of course doesn’t work. It’s made me feel quite confused because why in God’s name would I need will power to not do something I don’t actually want to do? Oh look, a freshly shat pile of dog shit, mm… yummy… maybe just a tiny bit… NO! NO! Don’t do it! Must be strong! I often have little monologues – OK sometimes they’re dialogues too – in my head but that’s one I’m yet to have. I think that’s part of addiction, although I can only really refer to nicotine and alcohol given my knowledge of other addictions is slim to none. How it will be incredibly difficult to give up something you perceive as beneficial. And bloody hell, imagine alcohol (or another addictive drug) providing some relief you desperately need somehow. I can live without a bit of illusionary glitter but suspect that if it was something I felt I relied on to get me through the day then I’m sure it’s a whole different ball game.

Anyway. I don’t want to drink so I’m not drinking. I have zero self discipline by the way, and I’m also really stubborn so a ‘no’ usually means I want something more. All things taboo become desirable almost by default. Actually, that’s not entirely true – if someone told me I can’t have any dog shit I still wouldn’t want to anyway, but you know what I mean. And it’s proven too, did you know that? I can’t now remember the source as it’s over 20 years ago, but they’d done research on the link between the availability of porn and sex crime and found that in countries where porn is freely available (hurrah Scandinavia, I salute you!) there were generally lower rates of sex crime. Of course there are lots of other factors and I don’t think you can prove that the chilled attitude to a bit of bangin’ is why we seem to have fewer sexual offenders (I moved, obviously, so that’s one less) in Sweden but it was an interesting study nevertheless. Part of it was to show how where porn was banned or very restricted, it became more desirable. Something like that.

What I was getting at is that I have no self control if I want something and telling me I can’t have the thing I want only serves to make me want it more. If you’d known me when I was still drinking and had tried to slow my pace you’d know immediately what I’m saying.

So it’s lucky really, that I no longer feel there are reasons to drink. Even if I still believed the glitter illusion to be true I don’t think it’d be enough because these mornings and feeling the way I do is FUCKING HEAVEN and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Today I’m not going to drink because I can’t see any reason to.

Any Problem Anonymous

Something has to give. I’m loving sobriety and it’s bringing me lots and lots of good things but it’s also presented me with a somewhat unexpected little gift: my job doesn’t motivate me. It wasn’t a hard job to do when I was drinking, so with my mind fuzz-free and physically full of energy it’s become really obvious that it bores me silly. It’s actually getting me in a bit of a bad mood, some tasks I think of as a waste of time and I don’t like this new, bad attitude of mine – where did that come from? Just do it Sophie, it’s up to your bosses what you’re spending the time they’re paying you for on and so why does it even matter!! And I never took this job because it was a passion of mine, I took it as a side line to writing and making jewellery, so I can’t say I ever thought of it as OH YEAH! But I always appreciated for what it was – I work for nice people, in a nice place and not once have I dreaded coming to work. Yes, there are things I enjoy less, but overall it’s a pretty easy ride with just enough to keep me occupied. Never have I had to think about work after I’ve driven out of the gates. My response to hubby when he asks how my day was is always “fine”. It’s always been fine. Fine, fine, fine. I honestly don’t have anything to complain about because there is nothing wrong with it per se. Well, other than the fact that I’m totally bored.

I didn’t start writing to find answers but weirdly one was given to me anyway. It’s right there in the last sentence – “I’m totally bored“.

I’m very bad at patience and planning so my natural instinct would be to chuck it in and worry later. I’ve done that several times in the past, even when I was a single mother and didn’t have as much as a bean in my bank account. It always worked out though, like I knew it would. I do also recognise how risky that strategy was. I’m just so bad at sticking with something that just doesn’t provide even the tiniest sliver of satisfaction. And it really doesn’t. Or maybe I’m just a grouch bag today, I don’t know. No, that’s not it, because I woke up sober, which equals super happy – no hangover, yay! – and with the added excitement that hubby is coming back tonight after a work trip. Only a short one again, but still. Anyway, it’s not my mood. My mood started when I got here, it’s being here and feeling it’s a waste of good energy that has me feeling ratty.

So I need to get my arse in gear because at the moment there’s a lot of talk and very little icehockey, as we say in Sweden. I can’t just sit here and drone on about what I want and just expect it to fall into my lap with me not lifting a finger. If I don’t want to keep doing a job that I find dull, then what do I want? I’ve tried the give-up-work-and-pursue-a-dream thing – sure, I did get a lot of writing done, but nowhere near as much as I should have and I just discovered that lots of time on my hands did NOT bring out the fire in me. Hmm…. Willow said something about routine and how she needs it. Sounds about right. I’m not so good at being a free agent I don’t think. And anyway, the writing is the dream to be pursued and I still hold hope that I’ll pull it off one day but in the meantime I want to have an income. Need to have an income, given I don’t feel I have a valid argument to illustrate to hubby why I should be a housewife. And having to ask for money is also a huge putter-offer for me, because even though I know I always can and hubby would never make me feel bad about it I bloody HATE it.

It’s staring me in the face, really. It’s time to get a little web shop set up on Etsy and chuck things on there. I have six pendants to finish off at home. No, seven. Actually, it’s eight but I’m not sure I can make the silver blob one pretty. Nah, that one will have to meet its maker the blow torch again. Anyway. Jeez, Soph, shut the fuck up. And get a bunch to the boutique on the high street that said they’d be happy to put some necklaces on display. JUST DO IT, SOPHIE! I finished off a little experimental necklace yesterday, a small silver ring with a gold hoop and a gold tube that holds a green topaz. Because it’s unevenly filed, it’s heaviest point when it’s worn isn’t where the stone is so he stone ends up to the side which came from imperfection but what I love about it the most. I actually want to keep it but I already gave in to keeping the earrings so need to stop being silly. Oh, and I’ve kept one necklace too.

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Ah, how nice, a little plan coming together! I need a name though. I kind of want something to do with sobriety. Hah! I suppose it’s no coincidence that I blog I had for a while had wine in the title. See how grown up and sensible I’m being! Anyway, I’m going to park that for a moment because I’m doing it again – I’m losing the thread! I set this blog up to write about sobriety, not precious metals. Do I combine the two? Drinking and blow torches don’t tend to go well together as you can imagine, but perhaps I can make jewellery to reflect being sober? I did come up with another accidental design, a ring with a tube setting that went completely wrong and in it’s place holding the ring together I soldered a gold ‘stitch’. Maybe that’s it? I have made a few rings with the same idea, i.e. a small gold stitch incorporated. And the necklaces I’m finishing off today all have the gold loops. What do I call it? Stitches? In Stitches? No, that’s a bit naff. Something, in any case, about how a little stitch holds everything together. OK, I’m going to get back to that later because even when I’m trying to steer back to the very purpose of this blog – sobriety – I end up even further away from it.

So yes, I’m sober and it’s been just over seven weeks. I don’t know what to say except I feel so good! It’s like waking up from a long sleep and discover everything is back to normal again. I feel like myself again and yet it’s strangely new, this waking up and feeling so amazing EVERY SINGLE DAY! Had a long chat with Willow which was really good as I was dying to pick her brain about all things AA that I’ve been thinking about. I felt with my sponsor it was not acceptable to question anything so I was full of things I wanted to ask. Is everything clearer? Yes, actually, a lot of things are. And I definitely feel AA is a very good thing – over all and for me. I think a lot of people would benefit massively from AA meetings. I’d just rename it to APA, which means monkey in Swedish but is short for Any Problem Anonymous. It’s such a healthy set up that I’m actually amazed no one has yet copied it for the well being of the wider masses!

What better way if you ever feel out of sorts than be amongst people who are ready to smile at you, welcome you, hug you and offer their time to you should you ever need to talk! And if you need to get something off your chest you are allowed the floor so long as you want it with no one interrupting. If people comment on what you say once you have finished, it’s the positives they point out, the things that they particularly liked or related to. So it’s a fool proof little happiness injection right there! I don’t think it’s possible to go to an AA meeting and walk away feeling sad. Well, maybe it is but you can be sure people will immediately be there for you and you tell me if that’d happen to you if you burst out in tears on the tube! At best, some kind individual might offer you a tissue. Really.

For me right now, AA is an invaluable tool to keep me sober. I still, stubbornly perhaps, believe that come hell or Higher Powers (see what I did there?) my wish to stay sober and any strength to do so has to come from ME. Of course, I don’t believe strength is needed to be sober any more than I needed it to drink, but that’s neither here nor there. The meetings are good because it keeps me focused on this thing and regardless of whether I sometimes walk away from a meeting wondering how some people survive at ALL when everything is so goddamn bleak, most of the time I walk away with things to think about and perhaps even the occasional revelation. ‘Tis good.

As for the things that don’t yet work for me, perhaps it’s just a case of not getting it yet? Perhaps one day a light bulb will appear but until then I will focus on what does work for me and not focus on the bits that don’t.

Excuses, excuses…

…….only they’re not, but I’ll leave the title like that because it highlights what I want to say. Yes, I’ve been giving AA a lot more thought. How could I not? It’s a huge change to switch from abusing alcohol for over a decade to never touching a drink at all, and of course I turned to AA right from the start so it’s been a big part of it. I immediately got a copy of the Big Book, then a copy of Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions and even a sponsor within the first couple of weeks. What can I say, I’m a put-your-foot-on-it kinda gal. But as it eventually almost always does, common sense does catch up with me and so I did a bit of a u-turn. Well, not from sobriety – exactly seven weeks today that I decided I was done drinking! – but from AA and certainly from the sponsor thing, which I now look back on with a wry smile on my face. Good times.

It was over the weekend that I started to think about my now ex-sponsor, when I in fact was deciding whether I wanted to go to the Saturday meeting I’ve attended a few times or go for a long walk in the park. I decided on the latter and for one reason only: I felt like I SHOULD go to the AA meeting. Not because I’m struggling with sobriety or gagging for a drink, but because I felt guilty at the idea of not going. Now that’s just plain crazy, isn’t it? How many times did I call Ivy and others in AA because I truly wanted to as opposed to feeling like that’s what I should be doing? Pulling out of the sponsor thing was an absolute relief and the first time I actually called Ivy just because I really wanted to speak to HER and hear HER voice at that particular moment. And I’ve applied the same thought process to AA meetings too now: when I go, it’s because I want to go, not because I feel I should or end up feeling guilty if I don’t.

I think that’s why my ex-sponsor popped into my head. It was just as the weather started to turn horrible and I was going to her place. I cannot park to save my life so I texted to check if there’s off street parking – aka non-parallel parking options – where she lives. It was cold so I didn’t fancy getting on buses, or rather wait in the cold and the rain for buses to arrive, so I was checking my options for taking the car. Her response? “Nice try!” It was her assumption that I was trying to find, as the title here suggests, excuses not to go. It was a bit of a revelation but even then I knew it wasn’t really about me so I ignored it. But it just goes to show how people judge based on themselves and their own perspectives. I could have told her that the only alternative in my mind had been to get Ubers as not going hadn’t even entered my mind but I realised trying to argue would have been as useful as a cat flap in the Hoover Dam. She’d decided I wanted an out and there were lots of little digs throughout. And ironically, that’s what resulted in my “out”. Well, not out of sobriety and not out of AA but out of the sponsoring thing. I quickly got fed up with being made to feel rubbish.

Sure, if I’d collected the 24-hour sobriety chip every week for a month, you know, then I’d see how I might have given her a reason to keep on like that, but there I was – and still am – utterly overjoyed at having stopped drinking and loving the fact that I finally feel like myself again! And there are ways of sharing your experiences and perspective without knocking other people down. Perhaps she really struggled when she was where I am now. Perhaps she didn’t at ALL feel happy and calm and grateful? Perhaps sobriety at the time seemed to her like, well, she told me herself how she saw it so it’s not ‘perhaps’ at all, she very much saw it as “life was over“.  So she treated me in a way that she knew worked for her when “life was over“. What I think she failed to see (and hear!) was that my life is anything BUT over and in fact I feel like I’m in the best place I could be now that I stopped drinking and when she accused me of slipping (!!) and of finding excuses you can probably imagine how that ended up grating on me quite a bit. I still feel a bit pissed off thinking about it – I’m allergic to being accused of stuff I’m not guilty of, it’s one of the things that make me see red actually – but try to recognise it for what it is. She has struggled with and fought hard for her sobriety so I should be respectful of that fact and just allow it to wash over me like water off a duck’s back.

Either way, I parked the sponsor thing for the time being, so that’s all done with for now anyway. I’m slowly but surely reading my way through 12 Steps & 12 Traditions and I also have a few chapters of the Big Book left, both books quite interesting so long as I ignore the things that don’t resonate and focus on the things that do. Some things just don’t make any sense, or rather, some things aren’t true for ME, but at the end of the day it’s a valuable resource and I’m making a point of reading a bit here and there each day, along with the app Sparks suggested called Each Day which has daily little snippets of wisdom. It’s a good way of staying focused, although I feel like drinking about as much as I feel like tucking into a bowl of fresh dog poo. This week I’m not sure about yet but contrary to what my ex-sponsor might suggest it’s simply down to allowing life to unfold whatever which way it likes and I just don’t know what my plans are yet. I’d like to go to the Tuesday meeting, it’s my favourite. Possibly the women’s meeting on Thursday, partly because the location is spectacularly lovely and there’s a step meeting in that same place today actually so perhaps I’ll make it part of my new daily routine of an hour long walk.

Yes, sobriety has strangely enough made me FAT!! I’m way too chubby now to run because things wobble that never wobbled before and I’ve always been wobbly in plenty of places but this I cannot handle so it’s hour-long brisk walks now for Chubby Chubbyson here for the foreseeable future.

You’d think that the removal of.. …let’s see… …in round numbers say 13 bottles of wine per week… HOLY SHIT IS THAT HOW MUCH I USED TO DRINK????? Well. I’ve calculated on five out of seven days. Usually it might have been four but there have been periods when it’s been more as well, so it’s a pretty fair calculation on balance I’d say. Two and a half bottles a pop. Sometimes closer to three. Yep, that’d make five evenings possibly a little bit more than 13 bottles but let’s stick with that, shall we? Anyway, this post is about my growing arse that now not only has its own postcode but its own time zone too, not about finances (but yes, let’s talk about the financial impact of drinking sometime!). A quick check on Google tells me that a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc contains just over 600 calories. So that’s 7,800 calories per week that I’ve said adieu to. I should be skinny by now! Instead, I’ve just purchased another pair of outrageously expensive jeans in the next size up. Even hubby had to admit I’ve put on a “little bit” of weight and he is deluded and thinks I’m magnificent even when I have morning breath so for him to be forced to notice probably means I am morbidly obese.

Not going to stand on the scales because I weighed a little more than I expected to after Christmas – 72 kilos! Impressive, eh! – so I am actually quite confident that I’ve smashed the 75 kilo barrier. I just don’t need to see it confirmed on the scales that’s all. Well, rather fat than dead, but perhaps I can be alive, sober AND in good shape? Going to give that a shot, so long walks it is until I get my breath back enough to start running. Good thing about exercise is you build up your stamina quite quickly. It’s actually a bit mad how you can go from a wheezing wreck to bouncing around a 5k loop within the space of just weeks. Given how out of shape I am though, not to mention FAT, it might take a couple of months this time, but hey it’ll be worth it.

So there we are. Monday and it’s raining. But I’m sober. I’m a bit fat but I’m sober CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! I remain on the pink cloud – fuck me, I love it here! – and I feel like myself again, it’s been so long I almost thought that chick who just went like a pendulum between being wasted and horribly hungover was my normal. It wasn’t. It was me under the destruction of alcohol. THIS is me! Calm(ish), happy, hopeful, excited, free and so full of love I almost don’t know what to do with it all. Please God, never allow me to be tricked by the illusion of alcohol again and let me always remember what I know now to be true: it does nothing for me whatsoever. Like eating dog shit. Never let me forget.

Today I won’t drink!

They Are Talking About LIFE

A funny little realisation hit me when I sat in the last AA meeting. Once again, the general consensus seemed to be – and indeed what the chair underlined several times, gesturing each time to emphasise this point – that “sobriety is hard“. This lady’s husband had been an alcoholic and died because of it. Other people shared stories about stressful jobs and other difficult situations. SOBRIETY IS HARD. Even Red, five years sober, told me this over and over, how she will never be safe and going to AA meetings is what keeps her from drinking. And the poor lady whose husband had died from alcohol? How in God’s name had she landed at “sobriety is hard“? Wasn’t it alcoholism that was so freaking hard it took his life? Surely? It was heartbreaking to listen to, like many AA stories are.

But what they are talking about isn’t sobriety at all. They are talking about LIFE.

What goes amiss is the fact that alcohol has done nothing for any of us, in fact when it comes to us lucky sods who finally got to a point where we wanted to stop drinking, we want to stop because for the most part we have realised that booze will only destroy us. Of course you’re going to be forever fearful if you stop drinking but still believe it will bring some kind of benefit. No wonder you’d have to go to meetings for the rest of your life then!

Imagine you have a bit of an ear ache. I give you some ear drops with the promise it’ll make the pain go away. You use the drops and lo and behold, the ache subsides! Only a couple of days later, however, the ache comes back and now it’s worse than before. The drops made the pain stop last time so you use the drops again on the sore ear. Once again, the ache goes away. You can begin to see where I’m going with this, right? That’s right, a couple of days later the ear ache comes back and now it is becoming unbearable and it’s spreading to your other ear too. Then you are told that it’s the drops that are causing the problem. Well, you had a slight ear ache to begin with but the drops have magnified a problem and now turned it into a much bigger mess. No doubt you feel relieved that you now know the reason why it started to get so much worse! Would you keep on using the drops? And can you hand on heart tell me that you would – now that you know that the ear drops were what made the problem so much worse – feel deprived at not taking those drops anymore? Of course you wouldn’t.

Obviously the ear drops represent booze. The ear ache represents life and as beautiful as this life is, sometimes it throws shit our way. Thing is though, drinking poison isn’t going to solve any of that shit when it hits the fan. In fact, it’ll just make it seem much worse than it is and it’s going to take us much longer to clean it up.

Luckily I never poured alcohol on problems and thank God for that, because I imagine if you use alcohol as a crutch (well – it isn’t a crutch, remember the ear drops?) it’ll be harder to let go of it. I was always terrified of alcohol in that scenario because it’s always strengthened how I already feel: if I felt happier, alcohol just seemed to enhance my good mood. Again, that’s an illusion and quite possibly the maddest one of all because alcohol is a DEPRESSANT so how in God’s name can a depressant make me happier than I already was?! It falls on its own illogic. It is simply not possible for a depressant to create feelings of happiness. So those feelings were there anyway and if anything they remained strong IN SPITE OF me drinking, and in any case certainly not because I drank!! Fact. And so it also follows that no social gathering, event or other situation where we might think drinking will help us celebrate is made better because we’re drinking alcohol. I for one have never come away from a great party thinking it was great because the wine tasted good.

But I get it – if you perceive alcohol to be the thing that helps you cope with life, it’s going to be harder to walk away. And ONLY THEN will you forever be fearful! Only when you still believe somehow that alcohol will bring something good with it will you feel deprived.

So, I quit drinking almost seven weeks ago. Have I felt deprived? No!!!!!!! No, no, noooooooo! I feel fanfuckingtastic! I feel strong, full of joy and I can’t point to a single occasion that was less enjoyable because I didn’t drink. Quite the opposite – the evening at the jazz bar hubby took me to for my birthday I enjoyed so much and that was only because I wasn’t drinking! If I’d been drinking the obsession to guzzle wine would have taken over and I wouldn’t have been present. I can guarantee you that if I’d been drinking I’d been itching to leave half way through. I cannot WAIT to go away for hubby’s birthday and see an amazing city I can’t wait to explore with him. If I was drinking it simply wouldn’t be that way. I’d wake up with hangovers for starters that’d make me too sluggish to want to head out and see the sights, and I’d be too busy working out which bars to hit and then how to make sure we’d have enough wine back at the hotel to enjoy any of it. So no, I don’t feel deprived and I certainly don’t feel I need to be fearful for the rest of my life. I’m not going to pour ear drops into my aching ear once I know those drops are only going to aggravate the pain I’m already in, am I?

What I listen to in AA meetings are people talking about life. And almost always the stories show how we’re all much better placed to deal with any problems without alcohol as well as how much more enjoyable life is without alcohol. Why in God’s name would you feel you need support networks to help you keep in mind something you already know? If you truly knew and believed it that wouldn’t be the case – it just doesn’t make any sense! I don’t want to eat dog shit and I don’t need to join Dog Shit Eaters Anonymous to help me remember that or to help me avoid eating dog shit. You will only need that if you still don’t quite believe it and you’re holding on to the belief that eating dog shit will improve your life somehow. It’s only when you truly see and believe that it doesn’t that you’ll be free for real. When I listened to Sparks, I ended up feeling dread – I just didn’t get it. If anything, I felt quite sorry for her, it seemed to me so tragic somehow. Here we are and what more proof do we need that life is infinitely better without alcohol? It’s only if we still hold on to the illusions around booze and believe it’ll add some benefit that we’re going to be trapped in its grip. Drinking alcohol will bring me as many benefits as I would get from eating dog shit. That’s correct: not a single one! NOT A ONE! And no, it doesn’t taste much better either.

Once again though, I do know that I react badly to alcohol and more severely than whatever a “non-alcoholic” does. For that reason, AA meetings are wonderful because it’s quite liberating and lovely to be around people who feel exactly the way you do. I won’t agree that sobriety is hard though. Drinking, on the other hand, that’s what’s hard. It does nothing for me except hold me back and push me down. To make it all worse something ignites in me when I drink that awful poison that means I cannot stop. Talk about a perfect storm! I am so, so grateful that I finally woke up. SO grateful.

So no. It’s not something I try to get through one day at a time. It’s something I say easily and without dread: today I won’t drink!

Detentions and Butterflies

Wednesday. It always used to be my least favourite day – as far from the weekend as you can get in both directions and at school and college it was always when we had double lessons in all the heavy subjects. And today? Today’s OK, as far as Wednesdays go. The weather is a bit rubbish and I’m already missing hubby and his perfectly shaped arse who flew to Sweden this morning (stoopid Sweden!) and isn’t back until tomorrow. Speaking of his glorious backside, I decided I wanted to bite it before going to sleep, you know, a big mouthful of one of his gorgeous buttocks, so dove in under the duvet to go about my biting business. I nearly fucking choked. He’d sneaked out a silent fart and it was one of those violently stinky ones that linger forever. So no buttock biting for yours truly. So gross. I wonder if it’s a defence mechanism to prevent me from inflicting pain on him. Got up early with His Royal Loveliness – 5am to be precise – and put on some coffee, then as he left for the waiting taxi outside instructed him to not talk to any female colleagues in Stockholm today. I sometimes wonder how other women react to him given the effect he has on me and my biting tendencies. I’d get myself fired in an instant. Hm, it’d be totally worth it though for one teeny, little bite. Even if I just got his arm. I need to stop perving over my husband, it’s getting weird. My apologies.

That butt though. And then you have those amazing legs attached to it. It’s like fucking Christmas. Like, literally fucking Christmas. I need help, don’t I?

Where were we? Wednesday! Yes, it’s Wednesday and it’s raining and hubby is away. Yet I feel on top of the world and I know I’m like a broken record but given the reason why I’m writing this blog and what I’m trying to say here it cannot be underlined enough: I feel fucking amazing because I’m not drinking. Because that’s just it – nothing else has changed. Not a thing. If anything, I’m a little bit fatter and my son is getting more detentions lately, but nothing has changed except for the simple fact that I’m not drinking myself into black-out several nights every week. To be honest, over the past 12 years, if I’ve had four sober nights in one week I’ve normally considered that a pretty good result. Madness, eh. Yep, the one and only reason why I’ve gone from happy and content to loving life with such intensity I can’t keep still. And what’s not to love? Well. I could list all the things I consider blessings, but let’s focus on the most important: I’m healthy and strong and so are my loved ones, and let’s face it, when it comes down to it you have nothing if you don’t have your health.

I’ve been thinking about that more than usual lately, actually. A guy who works with hubby is going through what I imagine feels like the seven circles of hell. I almost don’t want to type it because just imagining it makes my heart shrink in my chest and contract into a hard stone. His teenage son has a lump in his groin, apparently a tumour and yesterday evening, after various scans and a biopsy they were going to be told if it’s the c-word. I’m praying and wishing with every fibre in my body that what they were told was that it’s a harmless lump and they’ll easily remove it, job done. Please God, let it be nothing more than that. I can’t think of anything worse than my child coming in harm’s way, it’s the stuff of nightmares and horrible compulsive thoughts that sometimes keep me up at night when I’m in full blown anxiety mode (normally induced by alcohol, I hasten to add – I don’t seem to ever feel anxious without booze in the picture). I swear I’d go to my death or meet the worst end imaginable if it would mean my precious bambino was kept safe and well. So it’s the one thing I am the most grateful for – my health and the health of all the people I love.

Eesh – I need to push those thoughts out. The worst happening to my rat bag of a kid is a string of detentions lately. Well. He’s always been a chatterbox and from when he started school at four the running theme for all parents evenings has been how he needs to realise that school is for learning, not socialising. The latest detentions have been for relatively minor offences like sharing out sweets in class and when he was told off he apparently tried to bribe the teacher – with sweets as well as a fake Louis Vuitton belt I’m told – into letting him off the hook. I can’t help but feel a bit of pride. He’s just too funny sometimes. I just need to work on not getting the giggles when despairing teachers tell me what he’s done. I know, I’m a terrible parent but some of the stuff he does is just too funny.

So Wednesday. Absent hubby and naughty but funny child. And I’m getting a bit fat. It’s all good though. Bit bored with work, but so what – writing and hammering metal can be my sources of inspiration. And my bosses are lovely so why do I complain at all?

I feel I keep going off topic! This blog was designed to be an outlet for all the angst and drudgery I expected to go through when I kicked the vin blanc, but all I find myself being able to say is how freaking great everything is. But it is! I’d be lying if I told you that sobriety comes at a price. A box of wine and soda water most evenings is actually quite a lot of money I’m now not spending, alcohol doesn’t just damage your insides but gives your skin a dull and ruddy appearance too, and waking up most mornings so hungover even getting out of bed is horrible is no way to live. I just don’t feel deprived like I expected to. The first few days it was a little strange and I did get the urge I think, but I was lucky enough to stop before I was physically dependent so all I really had to deal with was the mental illusion that alcohol added some benefit. That benefit to me was how I perceived wine to be glitter I added to further enhance this beautiful life, but that benefit is an illusion because how could life be enhanced by a poison that actually dulls our senses? And just reading this paragraph back is enough proof that I’ve lost nothing and won EVERYTHING.

Went to the “usual” Tuesday AA meeting and plan to head to the women’s meeting tomorrow. Sat as usual and loved being surrounded by people who all share this strange inability to stop drinking if we start, and as usual some things resonated with me (someone mentioned how sobriety now means she notices butterflies and appreciates the small things) and things that didn’t (“sobriety is hard“) but know that everyone’s journey is different and perhaps I’m just very, very lucky. I did wonder actually, if I’d kept on drinking and lost everything, and alcohol had become my only way of coping – would getting sober have seemed so easy and so great? Answers on a postcard, please.

So my least favourite day is a mighty fine day indeed – Wednesday, I salute you – because I got to wake up without a hangover again and today I’m not going to drink.

Gravity Defiant Arses and Psychics

I forgot to breathe! Needless to say that’s not sustainable and so with fresh air in my lungs and calmly allowing myself to inhale, exhale, I feel more centered again, more balanced.

Hahahaha, no sorry, OK, I just read that back and it made me snort my coffee out of my nose a little and it’s now on my pretty cashmere jumper damnit – balance isn’t my thing, that was bullshit and I promised to be honest. I don’t know where that came from but I’m as balanced as the Pope is a protestant. I feel RIGHT again. I feel good. There. None of that balance nonsense, sweet Lord. Phew, moment of madness OVER. Good times.

It’s six weeks today. The six week anniversary of yet another hangover so severe I couldn’t get myself in to work. More importantly, it is the six week anniversary of when I knew beyond any doubt that I was done with alcohol. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore, but most of all – I no longer wanted to. Gone was the futile desire to try to control my drinking only to fail and fail again, and the reasons why I would drink in the first place started to fade too. I’m not saying I’m safe because I’m most definitely not. And I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out because that is absolutely not the case. But I felt I was done with it and landing in that spot where I had to hold my hands up and admit I’m an alcoholic didn’t carry any of the shame I had expected it to. It made my heart break a little but that’s not so strange when you’re up against something that will never, ever go away and your life has to change completely or you won’t have a life anymore. That’s quite a humbling experience, so yes, my heart broke a little. However, most of all it was the biggest relief. You see, being a drunk is NOT enjoyable. Incredibly – because it does seem incredible when I look back now – I knew for a long, long time that it wasn’t just “a problem”. I knew I was hurtling towards a bad place with each sip of Sauv. Imagine forcing yourself through life with that constantly at the back of your mind – it’s not living. So the 23rd January 2018 will forever be a beautiful day for me, because it was the day I turned it all around.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I don’t know if I’ll never drink again. I couldn’t sit here and tell you that I won’t relapse. I couldn’t even say that I won’t drink myself to death. I don’t know any of that. But I feel wonderful NOW. Right now and since I got sober there is no part of me that wants to drink. The devil did dig its claws into me and I thought in the moment all was lost and cried tears of joy when I realised I had strength I never knew I had. Who knows? I don’t. I just know that right now, in this moment, I don’t want to drink – not today, not ever – and I’m so, so excited about life and what it has in store for me. A few more wrinkles, cellulite and a dodgy metabolism no doubt given I’m into my 40s but who fucking cares? I was baby faced into my 30s and I look much better with a bit of living etched on to my face. I’m good at denial, see? Nah, I do like older me. It’s weird because I always had the feeling that my 40s would be the best years yet. I didn’t know why exactly but perhaps I thought that it’d be when I either wrote a bestselling novel or stumbled upon another amazing fortune of some kind. Turns out that this decade might be my best one so far because I quit drinking. I nearly wrote “gave up” but I can’t in all honesty see how that would be accurate as quitting drinking is a gift I am receiving and very far from giving anything up.

Rewind, say, five of those weeks, and I was really anxious to “guarantee” my chances of staying sober. AA meetings had me thinking it would be hard, horrible and such drudgery that no more had I invested in the Big Book and dutifully read it at any given opportunity than I collared this lovely chick and asked her to be my sponsor. I figured, why wait? I’m so sure of this so let’s go! I was and I still am, but I think I just went in a bit too hard, as I always do. I should have become a rally driver, I’d fucking ace it every time. Go hard or go home. I might get that as a tattoo actually. Anyway, along the way I forgot to breathe and as a result I was beginning to feel cornered, pressured and stressed. That ain’t good. So I had to reconsider, evaluate and start again. Not ready for the sponsor thing yet, I need to allow myself a bit of time to land in this strange new Land of Sober Living. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but I need to just chill out a bit and learn the language, see the sights, understand the culture and settle in to my new abode before I get a job and permanent residence status. Just need to find my feet a little. Sparks was as expected lovely about it and I felt such relief coming off the phone.

And would you believe it, once I pressed the panic button and drew breath, I felt really good again! I can’t wait to give Ivy a call later, I’m looking forward to a coffee with Emerald on Saturday and Willow is clearly psychic because she suggested going to a psychic fair and that is precisely what hubby and I were talking about doing last night. She’s bugged my home, I knew it! No one can be this much like me, I swear the chick opens her mouth and I want to report her for theft of my thoughts! Ah, my shiny new bird of a feather.

Actually, let’s stick with the willowy Willow for a moment. I think I figured out why I fell in love with her on the spot like that. She reminds me of Lopez, my best friend, given the nickname Lopez on my other blog due to a fabulously round, gravity defying arse that at the time made me compare her to Jennifer Lopez. Not just similar accents (although Lopez is Canadian, not American) but how they are wired. Lopez would disagree with me, but to me she is a very strong person. Open, honest and laughs as readily as she cries. To me it is brave to allow your feelings to show. It’s what to me makes people real. It makes me trust people, and I admire the fuck out of anyone who has the cojones to stand up and say “I’m hurting today” and not be ashamed to cry.

Being the emotional little hurricane that I am, it’s perhaps not strange that I am drawn to those who also feel strongly and are perhaps sensitive and over analytical like I am. But mostly it’s the ability to be themselves. It’s why I love Lopez and why she had me at hello, it’s one of the countless qualities I love about my husband alongside his perfect bottom, and it’s why I was immediately drawn to Willow. Yep, that’s what it is. That, and how she is suggesting a psychic fair, the freak. Apart from my lovely hubby (and his beautiful bottom) who is always a willing participant in crazy shit he or I come up with, it’s fun to have people around who are as bat shit crazy as you are.

It’s stuff like that that has me panicking a bit knowing Willow is here to work out if she wants to live in London. Lopez moved back to Canada, after all. How fucking selfish, by the way, some nonsense about quality of life for her two young children – what about ME? Nah. I know one thing which is true for the little handful of best friends I have. Time and distance doesn’t matter and every time we see each other it might be that years have passed but it only feels like days. Although I very nearly fainted with joy when Lopez suddenly walked through the front door when hubby unbeknownst to me had flown her in for our wedding day – I felt the years that had passed then and never wanted to let go of her as I cried into her hair and snotted all over her. Gosh, my heart still does a funny little flip when I think about that. I’m so fucking lucky.

So yes, life is pretty awesome! I am breathing again and today I won’t drink.

Perfectly Timed Trains

Go where the love is.

Best thing I’ve heard in a long time and like magic, exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Something Willow was told by the person who became her second sponsor and what she’s now passing on to me. It’s so simple, isn’t it? And so beautifully, perfectly right! Go where the love is. But of course! I find that’s true for the most precious truths, they are so often really obvious when you think about it. Going where the love is resonates with what my gut tells me anyway and how I’m beginning to think of my Higher Power – something almost instinctual but almost always a mixture of physical and mental. So perhaps I’ve come to think of feelings as messages I receive. Feel good? Good! Keep on doing that!

Quite the opposite of the conversation I ended up having Saturday. It was really quite bizarre and I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a frustrating position before. I came away feeling crushed, insulted, belittled and quite frankly humiliated. It feels bad. Very bad, in fact. I’m sensitive (because I’m an alcoholic, some would say, but I’d hazard a guess that sometimes you’re just sensitive regardless of any other ailments you happen to have) and sometimes I’m just like a sponge and soak up every last little sprinkle of words that are thrown at me. I take things personally and I take things to heart. I discovered over the weekend that I could go from feeling full of joy, love, strength and hope to feeling absolutely trampled all over. That’s not good for anyone and I don’t think it was enjoyable for the other person either, it can’t have been. But just like Willow suggested, I am going to go where the love is. I can’t take on other people’s preconceived ideas, feelings or judgments – I can only be true to myself, be honest in all that I do and have an open heart. I can’t keep on absorbing other people’s views and allow them to hurt me when I know in my heart that what they are saying isn’t my truth.

And it isn’t necessarily THE love and going there. It’s the right type of love. I know that no matter how rubbish it made me feel, it came from a good place – I truly believe that because I’d be horrified if it was all said to cut me down to a size they preferred me to be and I just can’t imagine that. It’s important – I believe – to regardless of how much something hurts, look carefully to see if we find any truth in the words that have cut us. And if we can’t, then move on. If we can’t, it wasn’t about us anyway. Go where the right love is. Damn straight.

It’s now almost six weeks since I gave up drinking and I can honestly say I’ve never felt better. Crazy really, because I was pretty damn happy as it was, only I kept pouring alcohol on life and in doing so set myself on course to eventually ruin it. Crazy, eh!

As things are, I am half expecting something bad to happen but I’m learning that feeling good is GOOD! I also know why I feel as freaking amazing as I do – I feel this way because I’m not drinking. This also comes with the knowledge that I’d just need to do one thing to send my life off course once again, just one thing to spend a large chunk of it in black-out and wake up feeling rotten, and just one thing to miss out on how glorious this life really is: pick up a drink. That is all it would take. Just one teeny, tiny little drink and I could in an instant go from feeling this good to really, really bad. That, or surround myself with people who have the same effect. Not going to happen. My sobriety and the life I now get to have because of it are way too precious to me to either pour Sauvignon Blanc all over them or listen to hurtful and judgmental gibberish that wasn’t about me in the first place. Nope!

I feel it is in order to list all the things that made my heart soar this morning, it being Monday and all!

  • My morning coffee – always MAGICAL! I look forward to it when I go to sleep, I kid you not, it is THAT glorious to me. (Do I need to get out more?)
  • My son, even when he is in his morning grump and hugs me with resistance so intense you’d think I’d been rolling around in dog shit. That little chimp just blows me away, it’s scary to love someone this much. It’s like I gave birth to him and from that moment on my heart is walking around outside my body. Scary but so freakin’ beautiful.
  • My husband’s delectable bottom in the brown trousers he’s wearing today – quite the delicious sight I must say. His bottom is always a sight for the gods but this morning it he looked particularly tasty.
  • Feeling alive on the tube. Oh yeah, I feel so good even sitting on London public fkn transport fills me with happy-happy-happy. I know, unbearable, isn’t it? Found myself glancing at my fellow passengers and in my head said a prayer wishing lots of good things will happen to them all today.*
  • Being on a roll – trains just pulled in at the right moment all the way to the Swedish Embassy and back and I only missed an hour of work. Do you ever get that? When you’re driving somewhere and each time the lights go green JUST FOR YOU!
  • Seeing my bosses this morning and feeling grateful that they are such lovely people and chatting away with another couple of colleagues. Jeez, I’m so lucky!

Life really is quite extraordinary when I’m not drinking. If I’d still been drinking, chances are I would have been hungover this morning. That would have meant no morning coffee (can’t have coffee in the morning with a hangover, it makes me more dizzy probably due to dehydration). Getting on any type of public transport (or even leaving the house in the first place) would have been a struggle and even if the trains had all pulled in at the exact right moment I would have felt too shit to appreciate it anyway. I would also have avoided any conversation at work due to being too zonked to keep up with any conversation aimed at the over-3s. There are so many exciting things lined up and I can’t wait to see how incredible the Big Things will be without booze if the everyday, seemingly unimportant and small stuff makes me this happy. Fucking HELL, remind me why I ever drank?? Oh yeah…. The illusion that it’d add something good. Glad I finally woke up. Phew!

So there we are. Today I am not going to drink.

*My apologies if you weren’t on the Hammersmith & City line heading eastbound at around 8.30am this morning, here’s some happy thoughts now instead: have an amazing day, you are loved, you are important, this world is good because you are in it and remember to smile – it might be the only smile someone sees today so make sure you do.

The Minds of the Converted

I had to control everything,” Phoenix tells me, “that’s what we’re like!

Her rather amazing story means her nickname is pretty much a given, because this woman has truly risen from the ashes. It makes my own journey look like a commercial for healthy living. But she has that thing about her that always gets my back up, this tendency to teeter on to territory usually controlled by the likes of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The “we” in her words refer of course to “us” alcoholics. I nod and smile politely and take a few moments to consider if I’ve gone through life having to control everything. I quickly discover that although you can absolutely argue I’ve done what the hell I wanted from day dot, I’ve mostly winged it on gut feeling and allowed life to take me where it has pleased. There is nothing more fruitless than trying to un-convert the converted, you’ll never find minds more closed than that, so I allow her to assume that because she and I have the same reaction to alcohol, it must mean that we have the same personality too.

We drink to numb ourselves,” she tells me a little while later when I’ve put to her that I drank because I believed booze would bring some benefit (sprinkle glitter on a party, relax, enhance a meal, etc etc) but clearly that can’t – mustn’t! – be the case because “us” alcoholics are all made in the Drunkard Factory and all have the same settings. She immediately dismisses what is true for me because it isn’t true for her. She tells me “that’s the illness talking” in that tone where again I instantly know that me telling her that actually it’s HER talking would be like getting the Devil to read the bible. At this point I revert to nodding politely. My truth is not of interest because it is not true for her (only it IS for me, but seemingly this is completely irrelevant). In fact, Phoenix has decided it doesn’t exist because the one that does is “our” truth. One size fits all.

She continues to tell me about a background that sounds like what might have inspired the film Precious. Several times I well up and there is a part of my heart that breaks when I look into Phoenix’s eyes. Her eyes are an almost impossibly bright emerald green, so vibrant I’m trying to look for the telltale ridge of coloured contact lenses along the perimeter of her irises but it seems like Phoenix was simply born with eyes the colour of a precious stone. Whilst my worst childhood memory was having to give up some kittens we couldn’t keep (our cat was the neighbourhood slut and always got knocked up, and we were upset every time we had to give away kittens to new homes), Phoenix tells me of growing up with addiction, violence and sexual abuse. When I finally get it, when I finally begin to understand what Phoenix has gone through, it’s easier to ignore her insistence on What We Are Like. How in God’s name could Phoenix possibly know what my drinking was about? As hard as it is for me to understand what it must truly be like to have to drink to make reality bearable, how could someone whose reality was so cruel ever understand how anyone – me! – ever drank to enhance its beauty further? So I kind of get it.

Each to their own, I suppose. It never ends well when you try to push your religion or beliefs down other people’s throats – it is the root cause for the majority of all wars. Well, these days the cause is often other stuff, like, you know, oil. But you know what I mean, right? So it’s very useful for me to have the little realisation I end up having when I speak with Phoenix. In some ways it is similar to things Sparks sometimes says, this “us alcoholics” and so on, so I am making a promise to myself that I will be open minded and respectful. Phoenix, or any alcoholic other than the only one I can speak for – me! – know why they drank. They know what they feel. They know their own reasons. They know their own thinking. You can see where I’m going, right? That’s right – I am the only person who truly knows myself and my feelings, reasons, thoughts and so on. If I find myself in situations where someone’s mind is too closed to see that and has a need to group me in with a “we” or “us” that makes sense to them, I’ll just be polite. It’s a little bit silly but not a battle I feel any need to fight.

All I know is this: today I’m not going to drink. Why? Because I am coming to understand the reasons why I used to and they’re no longer reasons good enough to pour that glass.

Happy Friday everyone!

The Pink Cloud

I think I’d heard it mentioned but never quite knew what it was or what it meant. This mysterious, mythical thing? Place? State of mind? I didn’t know but I sensed undertones of warning and danger. THE PINK CLOUD. No, not where all the fun gay people go when they die, but a sinister destination where us sober drunks sometimes end up if we’re not careful. Well, what do you know, I’m fucking on it. Of course I am. If it spells trouble in big neon (or pink) letters you can be sure that Sophie’s hobbit feet will trudge right to it. Oh yes, I am on the pink cloud.

Willow, after patiently listening to my latest theory on living in the moment (spending time with me right now is like being locked in a padded cell with Santa on Prozac), mused “that sounds like the pink cloud”. It didn’t sound like a bad thing when she said it though. Because I am a big fan of Willow I’m by default a fan of stuff that comes out of her mouth. Unless she vomited, I wouldn’t like her vomit even if it IS Willow vomit. I’d possibly dislike it less than the vomit of people I don’t like but why the fuck am I talking about different types of vomit and its merit based on whose stomach contents it happens to be? Do I need to go and talk to someone? Anyway, so Willow mentioned the pink cloud and made it sound a little less sinister but we had to run off to a meeting so the thought was parked momentarily.

As if on cue, however, a lady in the meeting shared how she’s terrified she’ll drink during her upcoming weekend in Paris and said she’s hearing about this pink cloud but it’s not happening to her. Willow glanced at me and smiled knowingly. Me, I wanted to do my Prozac Santa thing and go and be all jingles and bells BOOYAH right in this poor woman’s face and save her from those thoughts. I wanted to help her because I knew she was feeling things I once felt, and I wanted to help her see how it’s her mind playing tricks on her and her Paris trip is only going to be short of amazing if she DRINKS, and the absolute, glorious, wonderful fucking AWESOOOOOOME opposite if she stays sober. I didn’t. I felt it might be patronising to be jingly in someone’s face when they’re having a hard time, or be all evangelical about how I’m now – since I quit drinking – so freaking excited about everything that I can’t fucking keep still! I wanted to tell her I have things booked in too – a city break late April for hubby’s birthday, Foo Fighters concert and four days in Gothenburg in June and an island off the coast of Sicily in July.

I made a promise to, aside for real names or other details that would identify the people including myself that I write about, always be honest on this blog and I see no reason not to be, so I’m not going to deny that the thoughts did come. The thoughts of all those things sans le booze, like this lady clearly dreaded and I do know exactly what that’s like. I visualised cosy bars during our city break, some little side street in this super romantic location and sharing a bottle watching the world go by. I visualised drinking beer at some cool place along ‘Avenyn’ (the Avenue) in Gothenburg with hubby and all my friends (20 of us congregating to worship at the church of Dave Grohl). And the imagery my mind produced of Lipari was of our seaview balcony and what would be with us in that image if not an ice bucket with a bottle of wine? Those thoughts did pop in to my head. City break and Foo Fighters were all booked when I was still drinking, but Lipari wasn’t. Made no difference though. I’ve spent life with the belief that booze will put additional shimmer on to stuff, so I’m not surprised it’s a little strange to shift my thinking to imagine our seaview balcony and excitedly exclaim woohooooooo sparkling water, YEAH!

But I am. I think I have. I’m on the pink cloud, see? They don’t serve wine here.

I feel so excited about EVERYTHING! I swear, this morning (I swear I am also fucking mad) when I was driving to work after a huge loop that took me around Chiswick only so I’d be able to listen to the latest audiobook I’ve downloaded, I drove up through Richmond and suddenly this happy giggle just bubbled out of me. What the fuck is that about? I’m listening to a sickeningly dark Nordic Noir thriller and to make it all even scarier it’s in Swedish and for some reason everything is scarier in Swedish. Anyway, that sort of faded out anyway and my thoughts drifted but I don’t think I was thinking of anything in particular – it was just a feeling of utter joy so intense I couldn’t stop it from bubbling up like that in a weird little giggle. Come on – the weather’s shit, my car sucks horse balls, I was tired this morning and also we have this neighbours’ meeting tonight that I just don’t fancy One Little Bit. But oh yes, mad case here (fuck, what if that got caught on some CCTV tape!) is tootling through Richmond and giggling to herself like a nutter because life is just too goddamn awesome.

Told Sparks about the pink cloud and sheepishly confessed I think I may have ended up on it but I honestly didn’t mean to.

I’m on it too!” she exclaimed and gave off her beautiful, mad cackle of a laugh.

Is is a good place to be?” I asked a little relieved.

Yeah!” Sparks reassured me and gave my arm a squeeze, “you’re doing great!

Good ol’ Sparks. She’s still displaying the patience of a saint when I consistently don’t agree with bits here and there and I am amazed at how she manages to resist what must be an overwhelming urge to staple my trap shut. She’s currently taking me through the first of the 12 steps and I’d dutifully done my homework. I need to be more specific though. I’d listed stuff in a very general way – it seemed like a good idea to put things into categories rather than specific individual events because there are so many – but now need to describe actual examples of when life has been unmanageable. Does peeing on the floor count? I fucking hope so. I also woke up once and discovered I had the vacuum cleaner in bed with me, which first amused me even though I have to say I was initially worried I’d done, you know, Something Very Bad to it. But no, thank God. I was relieved to discover I’d only got it out to vaccum up the vomit that was now partly in the vacuum cleaner, partly in the bed, partly on the floor and partly in my hair. I remember that well actually, what a bizarre morning that was and not in the fun way. I’d had Tarka Dahl and pilau rice the night before, something I only knew because the delivery boxes were in the bin and the Tarka Dahl all over me, my apartment and in my bag free vaccum cleaner. I wonder if stuff like that will do. Get down to the real nitty gritty, grrr..

But anyway, I should have said something in the meeting I think. It might not have helped that lady one bit, perhaps she’d only decided she’ll drink in Paris and that will only ever be her choice, but I think Sparks is right.

You know, there could be someone there who’s new in, who is worried about what holidays will be like without alcohol,” Sparks said softly, “and it might just really fill them with hope to hear you say how excited you are now because life is better without it. Someone might need to hear that, you might really help someone.

She’s right. I didn’t think of that. I still believe there’s a time and a place, but that just means I’ll just think a bit about how I put things. I can talk about my perspective without being BOOYAH jinglebells in someone’s face, just be a little sensitive so I don’t make others feel rubbish even if I talk about feeling the opposite of what they seem to do.

Well. Liking the pink cloud a lot and hope I can stay here. For that reason, it is with a heart full of love and joy that I say: today I won’t drink.