The Man With The Perfect Bottom

For anyone who’s ever popped in and read this blog, it won’t be news that I like to reflect on alcoholism, addiction and sobriety. My guess would be that this is quite common when you start your journey to recovery, and perhaps it’s very necessary to understand what brought us to where we found ourselves with our drinking before we have a fair chance of climbing the downward spiral in the opposite direction – up.

I love AA meetings even though I haven’t been going much lately. Or at all. Maybe I’ll find one this evening? You can never have too many smiles in your life. Yes, I enjoy sitting in a room with a bunch of fellow drunks where we share our stories of where our drinking took us and what life is like now that we’re sober. I’m sitting there with my own kind knowing they are my family of sorts, these awesome people who are fucked up in the exact same way as I am. I have a multitude of amazing people around me, most of whom aren’t drunks, but as much as e.g. hubby understands that I can’t drink alcohol and pays close attention when I try to explain what it’s like, he will never be able to FEEL what I feel. See, that’s where my fellow alkies are invaluable allies, because I don’t need to say much more than “I tried to switch to beer to get less drunk” and another drunk will immediately chuckle because they know precisely what I mean about the endless (and hopeless) ways in which us alkies try to control our drinking before we eventually discover we… …can not. That’s the best thing about AA – how you can share the most ridiculous, fucked-up stuff and yet everyone around you just gets it. It’s liberating.

Hubby and I watched a program where alcoholism came up and the alcoholic in question called her addiction “the beast”. Hubby squeezed my leg and turned to me, looked at me with interest and sincerity and said “that’s what you call it“. Not a question, just stating a fact. Beautiful man. For a non-alcoholic I reckon he gets it as much as is humanly possible. He will never be able to feel what I feel, but he has listened to me and most of all, he has HEARD me. He doesn’t know the beast but he knows it exists. He has asked and asked and asked, question after question after question for me to answer, answer again, answer differently and for me to explain, explain again and explain differently. He has done all of that because he loves me and wants to understand what this is. So he may not be able to tell you EXACTLY how it feels and what happens inside of me when I take that first drink, but he knows that something does and that I can’t control it. And it’s absolutely crucial for me to have this amazing friend who takes it seriously and who tells me I’m amazing even though I’m actually incapable of controlling something he manages without second thought. It’s like me telling someone who has learnt to say ‘hello’ in Swedish that they are my hero – just one small word in a language I speak fluently without effort. We all need kindness and encouragement. I’m just incredibly lucky to marry someone who gives it so freely. So there he is on the sofa next to me and when alcoholism comes up he has something to add, something he wants to point out. Moments like that he really does make my heart soar, when he shows such eagerness to be in my corner and to be with me in this.

Can I just point out here that I am in absolute awe at my husband (in case that didn’t come across!!!!) and how he hasn’t gone crazy with all the alcoholism and sobriety stuff – the man is a saint, I’ve never known anyone with such patience. ACTUALLY, let me rephrase, because I know you read this, oh long legged one….

Gorgeous husband with the perfect bottom,

I am so grateful for you and that I get to have a best friend as amazing as you are. Thank you for not only putting up with all the crap I caused when I was drinking, but also for being so utterly willing to understand what this illness means and being so supportive in my new and sober life. Thank you for all the hours you spend talking with me and listening to me in an effort to understand what alcoholism is and how it affects me. Thank you for coming to AA meetings and for living on the Pink Cloud with me – I hope you like it here as much as I do. Thank you for having more faith in me than I ever had in myself and for making what might feel so shameful and difficult seem like the most positive thing in the world and the lightest burden to bear. 

Thank you for having such integrity and finding such perfect balance when I was still drinking – recognising that I had to come to the decision myself yet never letting me think it was OK to drink the way I did. I’m sure it was hard for you to wait for me to see the light and in some strange way I wonder if it might still be difficult now that I’m sober. Thank you for being so willing to negotiate unknown territory with me. 

Thank you most of all for hearing me and seeing me when I felt so small, for receiving me openly and warmly without judgement despite how my illness must seem so very alien to you. Thank you for making this drunk feel like a queen. Not once have I been worried about baring my soul to you because you’ve made me feel like I have nothing to be ashamed of (even though I may disagree a little..). Because of your love and support I’ve come to truly believe I can do this and that I can slay any dragon that may cross my path. 

There you are – just in case you decided to pop in here today. I love you. And I will say all these things to your lovely face before kissing you senseless. 

For now, and for here, though – thank you. 

Wifey

Let’s move on to one of the tricky bits with alcoholism and addiction right here – co-dependency. I don’t know enough about co-dependency to comment on if anyone has been co-dependent during my drinking. They say co-dependency is when your focus is the person with the problem and you spend your time and energy on them. Here’s a definition I found via Google: “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one with an illness or addiction who requires support“. Phew, can’t say this applies to hubby but perhaps I’ll ask him. Anyway, seeing as I am now keeping on the straight and narrow the bit that worries me is actually if I am starting to become too dependent on hubby when it comes to my sobriety.

Allow me to explain.

Right, so I don’t want to drink and I’m not in any way finding sobriety a drag or particularly difficult – it just feels really, really good! But hubby is sort of my lighthouse, my rock and my compass. I worry that this isn’t good and that I need to feel secure in my sobriety on my own too. When it’s hubby I go home to every day I feel invincible but when he is away I suddenly get worried and start glancing over my shoulder. I need to get over that. Sweet Lord, I can’t let my sobriety depend on someone else. Imagine THAT burden! For hubby, obviously. Imagine feeling you can’t go away in case this messed-up little person hits the bottle? No way, José. On the one hand I think it’s healthy to be mindful of that wretched beast and be aware that it will for the rest of my days be ready to pounce, and on the other I get really pissed off that I feel more intimidated by it on my own. I shouldn’t! No one got me sober but ME. As much as I love hubby and my son and two bonus sons, no one and nothing in the world can make a drunk who still wants to drink stop guzzling. I did that myself, period. And so it follows that the only person who can make me stay sober is also… …..me. And it’s worked so far, no? It’s not just worked, it’s worked brilliantly! For God’s sake, I sit here almost every day waxing lyrical about how glorious it is to be sober.

Do I want to drink today? No. Actually, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! So why would I? I didn’t the last time hubby was away, the time before that or the time before that. I’ve not even come close those times he’s been away since The Big Day aka 23rd January 2018. The worry has made itself known, yes, but not the urge to drink. So perhaps it’s just a healthy dose of fear. See, I think fear is a good thing. Another one of Mother Nature’s ways of telling us to watch out. And that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? I’m an alcoholic and I will always be an alcoholic, so I have no choice but to remain vigilant and note the times and situations where I may be more vulnerable than usual. I also need to remember that night on the high street when I slayed dragons. All three of them, in fact: Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Tesco. That was no one but me and I need to remember that! Oh, and hubby was away that time, plus it was quite early on in my sobriety.

Nothing wrong with needing other people. I just need to remind myself that as much as I need my husband and our three boys, I can also hold my own without problems.

Today I’m not going to drink.

The Big Day

The 23rd of January is my important date and the one I count from when I refer to my sobriety. It’s not the last day I drank or the first day I was sober but the day I put my big hobbit foot down and screamed ENOUGH! Well, not screamed. I decided and I was determined. I went online and found an AA meeting. It was an open one, which I took to be beautiful serendipity because I needed poor hubby to get help in understanding what alcoholism is. He was working in town that day so I collected him at the train station and drove like a formula one driver to the meeting – hubby had quite literally five minutes to process that we were going to an AA meeting. But that is the day that is meaningful to me. The last day I drank was actually 21st of January and the first day being sober was therefore the 22nd. But it’s the 23rd that counts as The Big Day for me.

Today it’s 127 days and I look in amazement at that number. Fuck me, isn’t that just so lovely? I’ve been an active participant in my own life all of those days, all 127 of them! I’ve not blacked out, I’ve not been numbed by booze and I’ve not behaved in a way that was painful or embarrassing to look back on. I’ve lived 127 days in sharp focus and glorious technicolour! 23rd of January 2018 is a very, very important day for me.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Shake, Rattle and Deal With It

Well, at least it isn’t Monday! Short week ahead and I’m looking forward to the weekend so, so much – Dave Grohl, here we come!

Still not a fan of flying, I’ve discovered. I haven’t flown since I quit drinking as it happens – our trip to Paris was on the Eurostar – but here it is already, a faint worry and vague sense of anxiety at being trapped in a steel tube at 38,000 ft. It’s quite a lot of fun to see life unfold now that I’m sober and discover what worries and fears are actually real ones and which ones were entirely induced by the depressant that is alcohol. I’m pleased to report that I’m actually quite brave! There honestly isn’t all that much that worries me or situations I feel unable to cope with and the things that do rattle me, rattle me a hell of a lot less. Well, what do you know – turns out I probably won’t casually stroll on (or into, as it were) aforementioned steel tube with a serene smile and barely be bothered by take-off. You know how some people just sit down, peruse the newspapers or read a book and just get on with it, seemingly completely calm at any bump of turbulence. Take-off usually consists of me taking a solemn farewell of my life as an earth dweller, clinging on to hubby’s arm and crossing my fingers I’ll be unconscious by the time we suddenly take a nose dive mid-air and tumble straight into an active volcano. Something like that. Never been a fan.

But!

Bear in mind that over at least the past decade, I have probably not once flown without a hangover. This means that any time I’ve stepped on a plane I have been all the things I am when I’m hungover: anxious, nervous, uneasy, muddled, frightened, jittery and shaky. Sum total: all the times I’ve flown in recent history I’ve already felt scared and massively so! Add to that a situation where I have no control whatsoever.

This is another important thing I’ve discovered when I’ve been comparing Drunk Me and Sober Me: when I’m sober I am calm and I don’t need to be in control. Sober Me is mostly happy go lucky, chilled out and almost prefers to just hang back and see where life takes me – if anything, Sober Me LIKES just jumping off even when I don’t know what exactly is below. Screw maps and plans and just see what happens!

When I was drinking I felt so awful all the time that I needed to ensure my life was as friction free as possible for me to even get to the end of each day – it was incredibly stressful to get through those hangovers as it was. In fact, additional stress made it unbearable and I think it’d probably be fair to say that a lot of people find air travel stressful even if they don’t feel scared. When I was still drinking, getting myself to work was daunting for God’s sake. So Drunk Me needed to have things in place to make sure that I could navigate all the things I had to do by creating a path that was as stress free as possible and where everything I could control I controlled. A longer queue than I’d expected at Starbucks was enough for me to turn around as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stand there with the shakes and feeling dizzy for more than a couple of minutes. That’s what happens when you’re so fucked it takes all you have to stay upright. With flying, this meant selecting my seat in advance, getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare, checking the weather along with flight safety statistics on various apps ahead of flying and generally have a step by step plan in my mind that so long as I rigorously followed it meant I felt a tiny bit better. Still, I was pickled with the relentless anxiety and fear of a hangover, so even if everything did go exactly to Sophie’s Plan, it was an ordeal from start to finish. And then of course, add air travel to that. See what I mean? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – being a drunk is fucking hard work. I should get some sort of award for persevering with the wine for so long, actually.

And Sober Me? As I said, I doubt I’ll step on that plane and feel completely fine with flying. I don’t like it, period. I don’t like the sensation and I don’t like being that high up in the air. I like terra firma under my hobbit feet. But when I’m not using every last bit of energy I have on fighting extreme hangover anxiety, I can focus on my breathing and remember the things about flying that make me feel OK:

  1. Turbulence is never dangerous. Ever.
  2. There is nothing Mother Nature can throw at a plane that’ll cause it to crash.
  3. Flying at those speeds the air resistance means it’s like going through thick goo but most of all AS STABLE AS THAT!
  4. A plane can glide 20 times its altitude.
  5. Air pockets are a myth, but think of the skies as the sea and waves.

Well, I suppose we all know it’s the safest way to travel, but I’ve always liked to understand WHY something is and stuff like this helps me. It does make me feel better to know that rather than “that sound is normal” I am told e.g. “that’s the sound when the wheels are pulled up“. I’m a rational creature at heart and I love understanding the ins and outs of why things are the way they are, and with flying especially this is the case. Having said that, Sober Me is way more likely to be happy with a “it’s normal” without needing to know more than Drunk Me who needed so much more reassurance.

There is a little bit of nervousness, definitely, but it’s nothing like it used to be, which was actual anxiety and fear. There is such a huge difference though, because I no longer have to control everything given I’m not in the grip of booze anxiety and therefore won’t have to see each bloody step as a huge battle, so I can just relax and get on with it. I can allow myself to feel nervous and focus on things that’ll relax me. Everything else won’t be a problem like before, because without being ravaged by booze it’s not an ordeal to 1) get up, 2) get ready, 3) check in, 4) go through security, 5) get to the gate, and so on and on and on…. Gosh, it’s SO much better to be Sober Me and I feel sorry for that sad little Drunk Me who found the simplest situations almost insurmountable at times. Fuckinell, I don’t know how I coped – I get exhausted just thinking about it.

Now when I think about it, flying this weekend is a bit like the blood test I had a couple of weeks ago. I don’t like needles. REALLY don’t like needles and never have. And here we go again: Drunk Me – in absolute bits and sometimes so hysterically scared I couldn’t do it. Sober Me: not particularly liking it but taking deep breaths, trusting the nurse and lo and behold, I got through it JUST FINE. Not liking it, but it’s no longer something I can barely cope with. I absolutely CAN cope with it. Not a fan but apart from a bit of nerves, not THAT big a deal. So I’m sure that by the time we are on the final approach to Landvetter Airport I’ll be very happy that the bit up in the air is over, but unlike when I was still drinking it won’t be a hellish experience.

When I started this blog I was terrified of sobriety and that’s what I expected to write about – my long and hard battle to live without the wine. Turns out sobriety is the best thing I ever did for myself and the only difficult part was the drinking. Who knew!! Life will always have its ups and downs but when I don’t drink I can deal with anything it throws my way. Drunk Me couldn’t. Drunk Me had to of course, but it was TOUGH. But now? Oh yeah, check me out – surviving flights, living to tell the tales of blood tests….. I’m a champ!

Today I’m not going to drink.

Thunderclouds and Lie-ins

Friday. Bank holiday weekend. Early summer. That’s a really nice combo, isn’t it? In many ways it’s just about the loveliest time of the year. Whilst it would have been nice to check the weather app and see a great, big sun for the coming few days, it still feels like a mini holiday, which I suppose it is. Instead of a sun there are thunderclouds so our plans to head down to the coast and walk the Seven Sisters were quickly scuppered, so it might be the sort of break used to shorten the to-do list.

What I’m looking forward to the most is sleeping in. I’m an early bird and it’s rare to catch me snoozing much beyond 7.30am even when I don’t need to get up, but I’ve been really tired this week and struggled to get out of bed. Perhaps my body needs more sleep than I’m currently letting it have? I’ve probably gone to sleep by midnight most nights after reading for a while, and that’s slightly later than normal but due to us now getting addicted to The Crown (we binge watched Game of Thrones from the beginning in February and March so needed a new series), so after my long walks and dinner it seems to get late much quicker. I get up at 6.30am but it’s been torture and this morning I stood in the shower and felt like I had a headache from being so sleepy, but once I was out it had lifted. So that’s one thing I’m really looking forward to – a little lie-in tomorrow morning and just enjoying coffee and breakfast in our dressing gowns and no morning rush whatsoever.

Next weekend is the one I am REALLY looking forward to though! I’ve downloaded lots of Foo Fighters on iTunes so will have Dave Grohl & Co in my ears on my walks between now and when we’ll see them live Tuesday 5th June in Gothenburg. I’ve never been much of a concert kinda gal, and I would probably have told you I don’t like concerts but I know now that this was because of drinking. Concerts, like so much else, really gets in the way of drinking. And so I didn’t like them! Now… Well… Now I’m beginning to look forward to seeing a freaking awesome band live and being able to fully take in the moments without wine stress! I know I sound like a goddamn sobriety preacher but I can’t begin to tell you how colourful and amazing my life has become. That’s saying something, because even when I dulled it all down by throwing a heavy, wine soaked blanket over it, I thought it was pretty awesome. Now? Pinch me!

Of course it’s also our first wedding anniversary so I’ve bought hubby presents and a card to congratulate him on putting up with me. The following day it’s our five years together anniversary. I’m so, so lucky. Hubby is the most wonderful person I have ever met – frighteningly intelligent, loving, kind, sweet, caring, genuine, funny, sharp, a little crazy, quite clumsy, sexy, empathic, generous, very nosy and he is on a superficial level the most attractive man I’ve ever laid eyes on. Inside out the most glorious person. Oh, and his kisses are the stuff fairytales are made of. And he has a very lovely bottom. What can I say, he is an amazing man and one of the best things I ever did was to put a ring on it. Yay me!

So that’s it from me for now. Hope you’ll have a really nice weekend wherever you are.

I’m now 122 days sober and today I’m not going to drink.

A Light Drizzle

Such a perfect day, drink sangria in the park…..

I’m sure Lou Reed doesn’t mind if I don’t and go with coffee instead. I would have said some sort of iced fruit smoothie but it’s raining and not very warm so more of a hot drink kind of day.  And it’s not a particularly perfect one. Bambino has something called a “school to school referral”. This is not a scholarship for outstanding academic progress. Nor is it a program for schools to send their brightest, best behaved and highest achieving pupils to other schools as an example of excellence. The goddamn little apple of my eye can’t make his peace with the fact that school is for learning and instead treats it as a social club as well as some sort of test environment for various pranks. Some of his pranks are both clever and hilarious and I have had to stifle giggles in many a meeting with headteachers, but obviously he can’t know that – instead I am Angry Mama and doing my best to remove privileges and have long talks with the little criminal so that he might eventually understand that he needs to clean up his act. So frustrating! He’s such a smart and charming kid and when we talk he really gets it, yet he does a 180 the moment he saunters through the school gates and morphs into a freaking gangster.

And it’s raining. But that’s OK, means the park won’t be quite so dry and as long as it’s not heaving down later it’s usually quite nice to walk or run in a light drizzle.

But apart from my wayward son giving me the occasional headache, life’s pretty good. A delivery parcel full of more silver and some tools I needed is waiting for me to collect tomorrow and the glass beads a friend sent me arrived – I have no idea if it’ll work trying to bezel set glass beads but think it might look amazing. Or, there’s a reason why I’ve only ever seen glass beads wrapped in silver wire or with drilled holes threaded on to a string or some kind. Maybe it won’t work at all but I’m going to give it a try. My friend went to a course where they create patterns in glass that you melt in some sort of kiln and these little blobs are the spillage apparently. Well. Some are very small and possibly quite fiddly to bezel set given I don’t use ready made cups but instead create everything from scratch, but I’m going to give it a good shot.

glass

It’s really just a fairly ordinary Thursday, except that ordinarily my naughty child would be going to his school and not some place else as a sanction for bad behaviour. Still, perhaps it’s a case of boys will be boys and testing boundaries. Kid’s got a good heart and I’m pretty sure he’ll turn out just fine. He has always been exuberant and his joyfulness and energy just sometimes bubble over. It’s actually one of the most beautiful things about him, his joie de vivre and glint in his eye. He just needs to learn to shut the fuck up in lessons and stealing a remote for the teacher’s powerpoint presentation and shuffling back and forth and ruining the whole lesson probably wasn’t the best idea either. Ah well, he’ll come right eventually, the rat bag.

In just over a week’s time it’s our first wedding anniversary and we’re heading off for a few days – I can’t wait. This summer I’ve so been looking forward to is really happening now! Then it’s the Foo Fighters concert. Then Ascot, which I’m sure will be as much fun sober. Probably a lot more fun actually, given I won’t have to stress about where my next glass of wine is coming from – life tends to be like that now, I get to be fully present and soak it all up. It’s cool. Then in July we are off to Lipari and I’m so excited about that I might pee myself! It will be fucking glorious to be present for THAT one, folks! Wake up and take in sights, sounds, smells… See and enjoy being there, enjoy good food – come on, you can’t go wrong in Italy! Actually, I said that about France, that you couldn’t possibly go wrong, yet I had the worst steak tartar in the history of mankind at a bistro in Montmartre. I am SO looking forward to Italy though and especially eating lots of Italian food!!! Construct a mini conveyor belt to my mouth and just ensure the pasta is coming without interruption for the duration of our stay. AND THANK GOD I DON’T HAVE TO DRINK WHEN WE GET THERE – that’s the best thing of all. After Lipari, a short side step home to London only to re-pack our bags and join Bambino in Sweden where he will head off to without us the day after school breaks up for the summer holidays. He had the choice to come with us to Lipari but apparently he can’t think of anything worse than having to spend ten days with us, so he is off to grandparents, uncles, his auntie and gang of cousins instead.

Fuck me, I just realised there’s so much to be happy about!! Perhaps it is a perfect day after all. Just I’m not going to drink sangria in the park later, just walk.

Today I’m not going to drink.

The Most Loving Thing

This morning when hubby and I were sitting on the sofa with our coffees I had that feeling that today was important, you know when you see a date in your calendar and know there’s something you needed to remember but can’t immediately work out what it is. The next second, after I’d mumbled “23rd of May” and tasted the words for a brief moment to jog my memory, I remembered: today is my four-month anniversary of being sober.

YES!!! Yes, yes, yes! 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring and I know my sobriety is quite a new and possibly fragile state of being for me so I’m not going to be cocky and feel I have it all figured out, but FUCK ME THAT’S SO AWESOME! It genuinely is the best gift I have ever received and the most loving thing I will ever do for those who love me. Who knew I had it in me? I sure as hell didn’t but here we are. Perhaps I’ll slip up, perhaps I’ll be saying “today is my four-month anniversary of being sober” again one day but I’m not going to let that matter right now. Right now I’ve done this! Right now I’m the woman who has been sober for four months and I am really proud of it.

I’m going to leave it there today.

And today I’m not going to drink. I don’t have the time, if I’m honest. All this living is filling my days and sweet Lord is it good to be alive, alert and present. Please never let me take this gift away from myself again.

The Whole World Is Shooting Up

Yesterday I was so grumpy I couldn’t make myself write. I suppose I could have forced myself but I had nothing to say except BLEURGH. Luckily my bad moods never last long, nor are they especially frequent – I’m probably just your average, fallible human being – and so this morning I woke up happy again. The best medicine for me is always a long walk (or a long run depending on how fit I am – which right now is not very!) and it normally just takes that ten-kilometre loop around the park for me to feel like myself again. Last week I was a bit mopey because I missed hubby, and yesterday work was getting me down. Pretty normal stuff I’d say, if I were to diagnose my state of mind.

Sobriety has brought me back to myself, and with it, my brain which now functions the way it does when all its wires aren’t disconnected and tangled up from a hangover. I’ve discovered I’m actually pretty sharp when I don’t anaesthetize my thinking capacity with vino. So it turns out that my job is something I could do in my sleep and it’s all pretty pointless. I am torn between yearning to do something that fires me up  and just appreciating how lovely my job is. I should just use it for what it was only ever intended for – a Plan B to bring in some money whilst I pursue my real passions, writing and turning metal into jewellery – but it’s actually quite soul destroying to spend your days feeling like you’re wasting your life on something that is utterly meaningless. Hah!! Says the woman who has wasted many more hours destroying herself with drink. Even now that I’m sober, I’m quicker to point at other problems and forget momentarily that I’ve solved the main one and all I should do now is figure out how I spread these damn wings of mine!

It is now 119 days, which translates to three months and 29 days and that tomorrow is my four-month anniversary of being sober. It has not been without its pitfalls but I also can’t say it’s been tough. The thought of having a drink pops into my head every now and then, most recently yesterday evening when I was out for my walk. Towards the end of my route is a cricket pitch and players and spectators were congregating at the little club house in the evening sun, spilling out over the path and grass with pints of beer and glasses of Pimms. It’s a lovely image, no? Except I’m an alcoholic so for me it would be nothing like that, but even so – it looked absolutely lovely! But that was it, just a fleeting thought and I don’t think there’s anything strange about that. After all, I live in a country where the majority of the population drinks alcohol and where booze is considered a normal part of life, so it’d actually be really weird if I never thought about alcohol. My point is that of course it pops into my head, sometimes quite randomly, but I know that I can’t drink and that’s that. I’m not upset about it either. Sure – wouldn’t it be nice if I were just like most other people and could enjoy alcohol, but I can’t. I’m also not 5’11 and skinny (or 17 years old) so being a supermodel isn’t an option, but I’m not upset about that either. It is what it is.

In the beginning it was harder. I still wouldn’t say hard. Just harder than now that it’s reasonably easy. I had a near-miss one evening when I walked home from an AA meeting and there was another evening further into my sobriety when the thought took hold and I felt like I wanted to drink, but those two episodes each lasted perhaps five minutes. You know, I’d love to be one of those brave people who fight to the death to stay sober and I want to be the woman who can show you that fuckinell look what I just overcame, but I can’t sit here and tell you with a straight face that I’ve struggled. Not even a tiny bit. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not making light of those who struggle and fight every day to stay sober. I admire those alcoholics more than I can tell you and it’s their courage and strength I’d love to say I have, but I don’t. As in, I’d feel really accomplished could I sit here and write on this blog how I battled through another day. Does that make sense? I just wanted to clarify as I just read back and realised “I’d love to be one of those brave people” could be easily misconstrued and seem like I was being really ignorant and flippant.

Alcoholism is an absolute evil, as is any addiction. Boozing however, I think is particularly lurid because at least with bitches like heroin you have the rest of the world completely on your side when you try to fight her, whereas the only people in my life who are teetotals like me are Willow (who, by the way, I know through AA) and my friend L’s husband. My dad told me a couple of days ago how happy it makes him that I’ve quit drinking and in his next text message he tells me he has poured a whisky ready to watch the ice hockey.

…….oh, Sweden are world champions again by the way! Yay the blond boys! Actually, I don’t care all that much, but with such a poor soccer team I’m willing to take a win where I can…….

Anyway, do you see what I mean? With alcohol you’re trying to claw yourself out of the shameful, dirty and stigmatised hole of being a shitty drunk, and offering you a hand is the rest of the world whilst they hold a glass of wine in the other. Isn’t that just fucking mad?!

It doesn’t bother me, thank God. I say ‘thank God’ because I don’t know what I’d do if it did – alcohol is EVERYWHERE! My beautiful husband I have no doubt would pledge to quit drinking too if I needed him to (in fact, that beautiful soul has asked more than once if I need him to abstain), which makes me luckier than most, but it just doesn’t make a difference. In fact, I actually really enjoy going to the pub with him and sitting on the wall by the river outside the pub where we met nearly five years ago is no less magical just because there’s just soda in my glass. It’s MORE magical to be honest, just like everything else in my life is so much better now that I’m not drinking. I’m not on edge because I finished my glass before he’s even half way through his, I can just sit there and feel absolutely calm and content. I am not calm and content when I drink. Like with Sweden’s ice hockey team, another win. But stay with me here and picture this: a heroin addict trying to get clean and literally the whole fucking world is shooting up, can’t even switch on the TV without seeing commercials for it, much less go out for a meal and don’t even get me started on birthdays, Christmas and weddings! So never underestimate the insidious nature of alcohol addiction.

I’m not saying it’d be any easier to fight off heroin. To my knowledge I don’t know anyone addicted to it and have no real insight into what it means to get clean, but from what little I do know it appears to be a million times worse than alcohol. But I’m not trying to establish what the worst addictive substance is, I’m just trying to show that as far as addictions go, alcohol is a sneaky fucker and you can’t get away from it. You could possibly try to engineer an existence where you only spend time with other people in AA, but that’d be pretty restrictive and as lovely as AA people are, enclosing yourself in an AA cocoon would hardly be a life, would it? What’s a life if you are not free and able to enjoy it? Jeez Sophie, you’re waffling on a bit now. Sorry. Sum total is that alcohol is everywhere, and if you happen to be the recovering alcohol who cannot be around alcohol you’re in fucking trouble. Phoenix is one of those. She told of her 19-yearold son who keeps booze at home and it “speaks” to her. Fuck me. Hats off to Phoenix. I haven’t been to an AA meeting since I collected my two-month chip so I couldn’t tell you if Phoenix is still sober but when I last saw here it’d been 14 years so I’m going to assume she’ll keep on the right track. Imagine that – feel the pull when alcohol is in your vicinity. How she’s done what she’s done I’ll never understand.

Then there’s me who can bring hubby’s pint glass to my nose and enjoy the smell of beer. I never thought about it before I quit drinking but I like the smell of beer. A little unexpected because I was never a big beer drinker. Of course I’ve done the classic drunkard thing of switching booze, so there have been patches when I’ve bought beer rather than wine with the brilliant idea that it’s weaker and therefore will solve the problem, but my drink of choice has always been Sauvignon Blanc. Plus given the amounts I had to drink, I was also aware that beer gets you fat. Not particularly bothered about organ failure but oh my freaking Lord please don’t let me get fat! Ah, the logic of a drunk. So anyway, booze doesn’t bother me and it sure as hell doesn’t speak to me. Beer smells nice but it doesn’t make me more likely to pick up that drink.

I have no conclusions to draw from any of this, it’s just another brain dump from me in an attempt to find some sense in what alcoholism is to me and how I find being a recovering alcoholic. I still only know what I’ve known these almost four months I’ve been sober: I’m an alcoholic and I’m enjoying sobriety. I don’t want to drink again and the world is a pretty spectacular place to be.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Sing It Away

I’m full of questions this week…. Here’s one I’ve pondered from time to time: what is alcoholism?

Let’s start with me stating my position in terms of the wow-look-how-green-the-grass-is patch of sobriety where I stand.

I know one thing for certain, an irrefutable fact. If I take one drink – a tiny sip is enough – I cannot stop drinking. In this day and age where we all get to decide what and who we are on any given morning we wake up including gender (a grande, skinny mocca with almond milk and non-binary, please), I consider myself to be a straight (ish) woman in her best years and an alcoholic (no ish about it). To me it is an irreversible truth that I will never, ever, EVER be able to drink like a normal person. That’s cool with me. I’m a drunk and that’s just how it is.

But what is it? What is this thing that rages in me when the vino hits my blood stream and starts fucking with the receptors in my brain? AA states that it is a disease. A physical allergy, a mental obsession and a spiritual malady. Something like that. The AA teachings are very clear though, even if I don’t know if I’ve quoted the exact wording correctly, it’s a disease. A medically recognised disease. So here’s my question: why, if this is the case, would you treat it with prayer? You don’t chase away cancer with a course of serenity therapy, do you? Or any other “disease” for that matter. Still, I am on board with mental obsession and I’d probably agree with an allergic reaction too because it does feel like a combination of all of that. Spiritual malady? Sure, it is a somewhat accepted theory that amongst addicts you generally find a higher presence of mental illness, but this approaches a chicken and egg debate I couldn’t possibly begin to untangle.

Do I drink the way I do because of some predetermined disposition? Am I wired differently on a biological level or did a short circuit occur for some reason that could have been prevented? Some people get ill due to bad genes, others because of hard living and I’m sure sometimes a mixture of the two. It just seems odd to me, illogical even, to treat something that is at least in part physical (if you stick with AA’s definition) by only focusing on the psychological.

To be honest, I get the allergy concept because it’s precisely how I look on it – alcohol doesn’t work for me because I have this utterly shitty reaction to it. I also think, if I speak for myself, that there’s plenty of merit in saying it’s a mental obsession because the force with which it grabs hold of me just psychologically speaking is terrifying. But on that score, I also think it’s a little dangerous to keep repeating various ominous mantras about powerlessness because that reinforces exactly that. Think about it – if you’re told over and over that something is impossible, it becomes true. Right? I for one hold it to be true that if I have as much as a sip of wine I’m doomed. That in itself probably ensures that I’ll be doomed. Eek, now it’s beginning to sound like I’m questioning whether I’m doomed by that first little sip – I’m not. Questioning it, that is. Doomed by the first sip – yes I am, ALWAYS and without exception. I can’t question that because there’s never been a different outcome, but can you see where I’m coming from? I just like to talk about it, to ask questions and analyse it – sometimes perhaps too much, but what can I say, it interests me massively. Either way, as I mentioned, I fully accept that alcohol and I can’t be friends, not now and not ever. But it’s interesting.

In a way it makes sense to say a disease may only have one effective treatment so I can also see how AA can confidently put forward that their 12-step model is the only way to get sober. Cancer is generally treated with chemo therapy, radio therapy and/or surgery to remove cancerous growths. You wouldn’t treat it with paracetamol or antibiotics at any rate. And, again, nor would you sing or pray it away. My slight reluctance to buy into AA’s way is that their success rate is depressingly low even judging by the most encouraging statistics (and I get that not many are all that reliable, given AA’s very philosophy means no records are held). Yet they claim it is guaranteed to work if you do it right. Well, hello? The idea that it works if you work it, and if it doesn’t work for you then it’s you and not the program that’s at fault, that does not sit right with me at all. Come on, you hear of people who are in and out of rehab multiple times. To me it seems like madness to say there’s nothing wrong with the treatment and instead blame the patient. Would you prescribe antibiotics to treat the same infection several times over, still have the problem yet claim the medication works? “It works for everyone who stays in AA and does the steps” – well, no shit Sherlock.

Maybe it’ll all click for me one day and I’ll see the light, become yet another alcoholic who will tell you that I am sober because of AA. Right now that’s not the case because right now I’m sober because I don’t want to drink. For me the key has been that I finally realised the reasons I thought I had to drink were nothing but an illusion. Why would I want to pour that glass when I know it’ll do nothing for me? Maybe this is the wrong way, but how happy and healthy I feel suggests to me I’m doing something right. Maybe I’ll relapse back into the hottest part of hell, who knows, but for now I’m just going to remain grateful that some shift took place in my mind. As much as I agree with how my reaction to alcohol can be likened to an allergic reaction, I am of the opinion that most of my own problem – what makes ME an alcoholic – is in my head and things I have been brain washed to believe. I’ve just had to learn that the world isn’t quite as round as I was taught to believe, that’s all. And that’s OK.

It’ll be four months next week! On Wednesday 23rd of May 2018 I will have been sober for four glorious months and that feels amazing. It fills me with joy because at some point all of that seemed so unlikely. I am an alcoholic and although intrigued by what it is that makes it so, I suppose it really doesn’t matter. The sun rises in the east. I can begin to understand it’s connected with the Earth’s trajectory but I really cannot grasp what makes it all happen the way it does. It’s irrelevant, really. I can’t say I’ve found sobriety difficult because not drinking immediately felt so incredibly good and I got wise to the illusions that had kept me in the alcohol trap. I don’t feel deprived because I have no reasons left to drink. I don’t feel inexplicable anxiety or suffer low moods for no apparent reason because I’m no longer putting poison into my body that brings that out. The restlessness and discomfort of being slave to booze is also gone and I feel calm and peaceful. I feel like ME again and that feels fucking awesome.

As always – please do feel free to give your view, opinions, experience or perspective or whatever in response to any of my musings. I don’t claim I have all the answers, only lots of questions and things I wonder about. Sometimes the discussion itself is much more interesting than the actual answers and I am more than willing to listen – we learn new things every day and I’m not so conceited I believe I have it all figured out. If you think I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, feel free to point it out – it won’t be the first time.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Chocolate and Gold

Now here’s a question I’d love to know the answer to – what can you do as a friend when you realise someone you care about is drinking too much?

This was a conversation I had with one of my best friends over the past couple of days. I’ve been pretty open about why I’ve quit drinking and for this friend – let’s call her Cherokee, because her hair is dark chocolate and gold, her spirit is free and she’s simply the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen – this should have meant she’d have the super advantage of insider information now that she is witnessing another friend teetering on the edge of a growing drinking problem. Straight from the horse’s mouth, right? And all I could tell her was that there is fuck all she can do. Isn’t that just so depressing? I kept going back to myself, how I felt any time someone said anything about the amount of Sauvignon Blanc I was pouring down my neck and I do remember it very clearly: I got massively offended and angry, then made a mental note to avoid that person from thereon out.

What CAN you do? I am genuinely asking! What do you think? If like me you are an alcoholic, is there anything anyone could have said or done that would have made you listen or stop?

For me I think the answer is no, partly because I’m too fucking stubborn for my own good but mostly because I remember exactly what I felt anytime my husband tried to slow me down – it got me in a really bad mood and it was torture sitting there with the beast clawing at my throat and wait for him to take his merry time finishing his goddamn beer. I remember it so well it gets me irritated just thinking about it! Or any time he’d say we should try to drink less often. I knew he was right but I just pushed it out of my mind. I honestly cannot think of something that would have worked. If anything, I think hubby’s way actually got to me more than if he’d tried to place demands on me or tried to stop me from drinking – it got to me WAY more to hear this person who loves me say he thought I drank too much but I’m an adult so it’s my choice. Ouch. Much more effective in my case. Hubby magically let me know he’d always support and help me, yet never judge or tell me what to do. Cherokee also always put things to me in a way that didn’t get me defensive, simply told me it was awesome that I was doing something about my drinking if I felt it had become a problem. No pointing fingers. Having said that, Cherokee and I only see each other a few times in the summer and around Christmas so she only knows about my drinking because I’ve been open with her. It would have been pretty easy to disguise it otherwise – hey, I’m on holiday, carte blanche to drink every day!

I suggested to Cherokee that with quite a risk of this potential problem drinker getting really angry and distancing herself, perhaps just sit her down and tell her something along the lines of I love you and don’t want to see you in harm’s way, your drinking really worries me and here’s why. Would that have ever worked for you? I keep thinking stuff would have registered for me, but until I truly wanted to quit drinking there was nothing that could get between me and that bottle. From what Cherokee told me it doesn’t sound like this chick has got herself into a habit as bad as the one I eventually had, but the warning signs are all there including how she always chooses party and drink over any other activity. Cherokee says she is different. Either way, it’s sad to hear of a smart, kind, witty and vibrant woman slipping further into the pitcher plant. The slope gets steeper very suddenly unfortunately.

Apart from being a Class A Drunk myself, I’ve also been on the other side of the fence with another friend of mine, Poppy. A mutual friend contacted me to say she and another person were both extremely worried about her drinking. Poppy was of course one of my favourite drinking buddies because she was limitless like me although I always thought she was worse – crap I made myself believe so I could in my own mind point at her as proof that I was JUST FINE. Anyway, that’s a different conversation and what that other blog post is about. This person who contacted me told me about the stuff I didn’t know about – how Poppy was drinking in the morning and used a tea mug in an attempt to conceal it (been there!), how she’d throw up several times per day and how she had the shakes so badly she was pretty much housebound. It was a bit of a shock because although I knew she drank too much I just thought she was a bit like me and of course at this point I was still in la-la-denial-land. Actually, even then I knew I was the MUCH heavier drinker but Poppy was still more hardcore than most of my other friends so for me it was reassuring.

Anyway, our mutual friend confronted Poppy and Poppy got really, really mad. At all of us. We’d talked shite and gone behind her back. I calmly explained our mutual friends had come to me, for one, and secondly I was the one who’d been faced with new information here. I had said nothing to them that they didn’t know. But that was probably something Poppy couldn’t deal with hearing or taking in, so I just let her be angry with me for a while. But I think her reaction is one that’s typical for someone who has a problem but not yet ready to deal with it – bat it away, refuse to acknowledge or even sniff at the possibility that there is something to it. I mean, that’s what would have been behind MY reaction had I been confronted about my drinking before I was ready to deal with it. But it could also be that Poppy doesn’t at all have a problem and us friends just got it really, really wrong. And of course me, the drunk, probably put two and two together and got 1,435.

Either way, whether Poppy drinks in a dangerous manner or otherwise – and I accept that all is probably well and to stay out of it – that’s for Poppy herself to determine. If there isn’t a problem, there isn’t a problem. Point is though, that each person has to reach that realisation themselves. If there is anything TO realise, that is. With Poppy, maybe not. With Cherokee’s friend, again, maybe not! And if there is, they just have to figure it out themselves. I suppose all we can do as friends is to always approach things with love and respect and show we’re there.

So my experience tells me that there’s very little Cherokee can do but wanted to throw this out there in case someone has something less depressing to offer. Interventions, has anyone tried? Either been part of one or the person it was intended to help?

Today I’m not going to drink. Oh, and my app tells me 114 days!

Planet Moody

Major bad mood on planet Sophie this morning after scanning through my payslip. Whilst I can see that my employers don’t want to pay for nothing I still think it’s a bit rank to deduct salary for sick days. OK, so we are lucky in that this doesn’t put us in a stressful financial pickle, but what if it did? I remember all too well my years as a single mother when every last penny was accounted for and the loss of pay or holiday entitlement caused enormous stress – it just doesn’t sit right with me. Perhaps I’m excessively moody because hubby is away and it was rubbish to wake up this morning without him lying there next to me, so I’ll concede that I’m possibly a little less tolerant than I’d otherwise be but I think it’s unfair and wrong. It made me think of the film we watched Sunday night, “I, Daniel Blake”. It’s about a man who has suffered a heart attack and gets signed off work, has to rely on benefits and ends up in a really awful situation when money is withheld due to him failing to meet certain criteria. I don’t know how the benefits system works, what I’m getting at is how falling short of even a relatively small amount of money could mean catastrophic consequences in some situations.

Well, I shouldn’t bitch about it – the people I work for are lovely and this isn’t Scandinavia where it’s fashionable to look after your employees so I will focus on my blessings instead of letting this get to me. Still – grr.

One night down, four to go without hubby – for someone who always preferred her own company and solitude I am surprisingly lost without my bestie, don’t at all enjoy being without that big kiwi. But hey, the weather’s great and I’m looking forward to my walk today. And that’s all I have to say today, a bit flat really… Annoyed with my payslip, missing hubby and appreciating the nice weather. Plenty to be grateful for though and being sober is high up on that list.

Today I’m not going to drink.