Albums in an Expanding World

Where I grew up, a small town in countryside Sweden, a lot of businesses close down for all of July. In fact, this is often the case around the whole country as this is when people take their holiday. Unlike in the UK where you’re lucky if your boss agrees to let you take a couple of weeks in one go, Swedes book almost their whole holiday entitlement in one block. And of course in Scandinavia it’s trendy to look after your employees, so people tend to have six weeks per year to take off work. Nice, eh? Most people book all of July off and a lot of the country closes down – cinemas, hair dressers, factories and even airlines. Well, the smaller domestic ones anyway. So just like the 10-seater plane that takes people from the place I grew up to Stockholm and back, I’m heading into a few weeks of summer holidays free of musts and to-do lists. As much as the idea of blogging from our sea view balcony in Italy appeals to me, I’m going to enjoy the moments in the moment and remain blissfully offline. There’s always a bit of worry when a drunk goes off radar I suppose, my first thought when I haven’t heard from Ivy or Blue or Butterbean or any other sober friend is whether they’re OK or have fallen off the wagon. Well, you’ll be the first to know, but rest assured I’m heading off into the Mediterranean sunsets with these five-plus months of happy sobriety and no wish to wreck any of it. And that’s all I have really, a genuine intention to stay on this path.

summer

When Facebook was first popular I spent huge amounts of time online. I’ve always been a blogger and just like I do now I used to write pretty much every day, albeit not about being an alcoholic. However, it was no accident that my old blog was called ‘A Storm in a Wine Glass’. In a way I wish I’d kept it but it’s all gone and deleted since many years back. Another blog I wrote on for some years was called ‘Morning Pages’ and like the previous it was just really my observations of life but with the title from the advice of an author – the idea was to write as soon as you get up and not give it any thought. I used to set a timer for 20 minutes and write whatever popped into my head. I still have the latter but haven’t posted anything in a long time as my attention has been focused here and on my quest to get sober. Anyway, when Facebook exploded and everyone got on to it, I did too. I never went as far as post pictures of my dinner but I spent an awful lot of time on there. It was also the time when my drinking was at its worst so it suited me to have a world that had shrunk to the kitchen table where I sat every evening in front of my laptop.

Since I met hubby, the world has expanded a little again, and since I quit drinking it’s become beautifully enormous, and whenever I do forget to take my phone with me it’s just a relief. I find myself unwilling to take photos, never mind posting them online straight away, in favour of just being in the moment and not ruin it by whipping out a goddamn phone every time something is lovely be it a sunrise or a meal. I want to get a camera, an actual camera, and take photos when on holiday, then look through them all only when we’re back and get them developed. Actual photos that you see when they’ve been developed and not before, put them into albums that you look through by turning pages and not swiping through on a screen. It’s funny, I find myself wanting to go back in time a little and move away from screens and apps. Last year I decided to get an old school mobile phone so managed to find a restored Nokia 8250 on ebay, the same phone I used to have around 2001. The plan worked until I discovered it really handicapped me. I’d just wanted to have a phone that you can make phone calls on and use to send text messages and get away from the distraction of Facebook etc, but it’d seem times have moved in a way that means that sort of phone is really awkward to use! My mother was in London and I found myself unable to help when I needed to find a number for a taxi firm. Couldn’t go online and I don’t even think the directory service exists anymore, the trusty old 192 you could ring to get a phone number you’d write down on a piece of paper. Somewhat miffed I declared defeat and put my SIM card back into my iPhone.

My friend E is definitely a Facebookaholic and the last time she was on holiday there was even a photo posted on her timeline from when she was on the toilet. Not a selfie, thank God, but a photo to illustrate some flaw in Cypriot lavatory design I believe. When we celebrated Midsummer at her place, her husband – clearly well drilled in social media etiquette and procedure – even announced “OK, wait, don’t touch the food until the photos are done“. And hey presto, E snapped away and our buffet lunch was shared on Facebook before we’d even taken our first bite. Nothing wrong with that, but I want a break from it all. I want to get to Lipari and enjoy a beautiful, magical holiday with hubby and just feel it’s us. I want to take precious holiday snaps but the evenings I want to spend taking in the view of the sea and not sit and flick through and post the whole day’s experiences online with both of us absorbed by our phones. Isn’t it funny how it almost seems like a little challenge to not look at our holiday photos until we are back? Something you’d never have done, say, 20 year ago?

Yes! I want to have REAL albums again. Get photos developed and be all excited to see how they turned out, bring them back from the photo store and sit down together on the sofa and look through them whilst avoiding getting finger prints all over them. Now I just need to convince hubby this is a good idea. He always has his phone on him, even to the loo, but because of his work he can’t really leave his phone at home when we go out like I can. However, I think he’s much like me – if the damn phone is there you end up messing around on it – and I doubt he’d panic at the idea of going offline. So long as my son can get hold of me I don’t need to ever be available and I’m going to draw full advantage of that fact now.

Sobriety is definitely playing a big part in wanting to embrace living – I’m finally present in my own life and it seems a waste to live it in any other way or place than in the moment so that’s what I’m going to do. Perhaps I’ll find the occasional moment to post something here if something bubbles up in me that I just have to share, but who knows. All I wanted to do for now is wish you all a wonderful summer as I don’t know if I’ll be back here again until half way through August. I’m so looking forward to my summer holidays without drinking, I can’t tell you how excited I am to go into all of this knowing I’ll not miss a thing and not waste any days because of hangovers. Being sober is fucking exciting!

Just like Sweden, this Swede is closing up shop for the holidays.

Today I’m not going to drink and here’s to an amazing, sober summer!

Sleeping Dogs and Fuckery

No sooner than I click ‘publish’ on a post where I just conclude I have nothing much to say today, do lots of thoughts of the hmm variety bounce into my head. And it’s the sort of hmm that I fear might run into an essay of gigantic proportions, but I’m actually quite curious as to what others might do.

For those of us who work the 12 steps as part of our sober journey, we will eventually encounter step 8 and 9. These steps involve listing everyone who’s been affected by your fucked-upness and then proceeding to apologise to each one and offer to make amends unless it’d make things worse to do so. As much as those people who have been wronged deserve an apology, I think it also lightens the burden for the wrong-doer. Even if the harm done can never be forgiven, never mind undone, at least you can walk away knowing you faced up what you did wrong. We can’t force anyone to accept an apology but surely it’s better to take full responsibility for our actions, plus it will feel better too. It might not change a thing in terms of the other party’s anger and/or resentment towards us, but I think it makes a huge difference to how we feel to have at least made an effort to right our wrongs.

In my case I think the easiest way to create an accurate list would be to note down every single person I know and had any dealings with during the years when my alcoholism was in full swing and then strike off the few I didn’t hurt. Where I’ll draw a line will be an interesting dilemma because why create potential awkwardness when all there is to it might just be that someone’s been a bit annoyed? Perhaps just focus on when I’ve actually upset people.

One such person is Friction, named that way because she and I always rubbed each other up the wrong way. She is the only person in the world I have had an actual friendship with that ended because we both agreed it wasn’t a good one. As I imagine many of us do, I have had friends where we’ve just grown apart or away, but this one ended because it was a bit crappy. I have no interest in having this person in my life again and nor do I think she’d want to start hanging out again, but when we parted ways one of the things she did say was that she felt I didn’t prioritise her. And I didn’t. I’d often cancel at the eleventh hour. I suspect this made Friction feel like I didn’t value her as a friend, which you can hardly blame her for if this is indeed the case. And that’s what I want her to know. Because as a friend she’s great – 100% one of those people you could call in the middle of the night and she’d hop in the car or what have you to be there for you. And I did always look forward to seeing her because we’d often have a really nice time. That’s what my apology would be – to tell Friction I am sorry if I made her feel I didn’t give a shit about her and this wasn’t the case at all.

The tricky bit is I don’t fucking like her! I was intensely uncomfortable with at times socialising with our husbands in tow and having to look her husband in the eye knowing that she over the years had been sleeping with her boss in return for promotions and pay rises and other financial favours. I couldn’t stand her obsession with status and titles (which I guess drove the boss fuckery in the first place) and really resented her when she told me about all these things in a sort of gleeful way that almost suggested she expected me to be impressed. It was ugly. One year hubby and I met up with Friction and her husband for Christmas drinks. Her hubby made a joke about how much her boss was in love with her, a joking remark about how close they were and which might have been funny had she not been fucking him. Instead there we were, forcing a smile and a chuckle at his joke yet everyone but him knew and I felt absolutely awful. My husband and I walked away feeling really uncomfortable, I remember hubby at the time telling me “I can’t do that again, poor guy“. It was quite bad and the fact that Friction’s husband was a thoroughly nice guy and super sweet didn’t help either.

So she’s actually a person I am quite pleased to no longer have anything to do with. But I made her feel bad and unimportant and that’s obviously not right. What would you do here? The reason I so often cancelled was because I was either too hungover to leave the house or in the process of drinking again – the same reason why I cancelled a million other things when my alcoholism was at its worst, and why she was one of countless friends I’ve let down because I’ve been too wrecked to show up. I mean, that still warrants an apology. And I also don’t like the idea that someone feels bad when it’s my drinking that’s to blame and nothing else.

Then again, I assume her life is just like mine when it comes to our friendship and better without me in it just like my life is better without her. Do I, for example, care what she might think of me now or thought of me then? Not one bit. I assume she doesn’t give a toss about whether I prioritised her or not – clearly it pissed her off (or even hurt her) at the time but to trudge it up now? I don’t see how there is anything to fix. In fact, I would possibly say this is when it’d cause more bad feelings than good to go back there. The only thing that has her popping up on my list is that she at the time said she felt I didn’t give a shit about her and it sort of seems like the right thing to do to say I did, that it was just that she was up against my drinking and let’s face it, no one won on that score.

I think this is where I let sleeping dogs lie. I would be interested to hear what others would do though. No matter what I think of her, it’s wrong she felt that way, but would it really be right to poke at something that’s long gone and over with? And when we’re both better without the other?

Today is a good day. I am sober and I can fulfill all my commitments. I don’t feel too shit to turn up for anything. It’s fucking awesome and long may it continue!

169 Days

It would seem my patch of bad sleep is over, thank God, and I am back to where sobriety almost immediately took me and have slept soundly. Phew! Because my drinking went on for as long as it did it’s actually quite tricky at times to ascertain what it is I’m feeling and where it comes from, almost like I’m getting to know myself all over again. Low moods and anxiety therefore scare me a little. One of my closest friends, Lopez, has suffered depression for years and I also know other people fighting the same battle so it did frighten me when I suddenly felt anxious and “off” last week – my antenna immediately extended to detect if there were rational reasons or if it might just come from within. I.e. when am I just being a stress head and when is it perhaps something a bit more than that? How do you know if you’re just, say, sensitive to hormonal fluctuations or if it’s a little more sinister? Perhaps I’m analysing everything I feel a little too keenly, but there we are – some of this is new and even when it isn’t positive I’m actually finding it to be a good experience to feel everything just the way it is without the numbing and lowering effect of alcohol. We are having a busy summer and our main holidays are just around the corner now, so maybe there’s more than usual whirring around in my mind.

My hips took a day or two to recover and now there are no aches or pains left to remind me of our marathon hike so I’ll be pulling on my trainers this afternoon and then see what a brisk walk around the park might feel like.

Nope, I have nothing interesting to say today. Slept well, feel good and the sun will set in the west as usual.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Cautious Confidence and Sweat

Can I just start with a warning today – this post will doubtlessly contain incessant bragging and is really just a huge exercise in attention seeking. And I don’t give a shit, I am THAT proud of myself!

We did it! 26 miles/42 kilometres along the south coast from Brighton to Eastbourne on the hottest day of the year, conquering the Seven Sisters, who, by the way, are fucking BITCHES. I swear, if I’d known how bad those hills would be I don’t know if I’d bothered even if I hadn’t hiked 20 miles already by the time we got to them. Oh, who am I kidding, as exhausting and difficult those last six miles were, I am so, so happy we managed to do it and yes, I’d do it again. I kind of feel about this like I do about childbirth – fucking painful and in the moment you make a solemn vow to never EVER do it again but then… ….you totally would and then you totally do. Well, I only gave birth the once because life’s plan for me didn’t involve bearing more children, but you know what I mean – it was never the fear of giving birth that was the reason I only did it the once. And as much as I thought I’d collapse when we finally reached the top of Beachy Head, the last huge hill before it was finally over, and we just had that last downhill stretch to Eastbourne, I knew I’d do this all over again as soon as I stepped over the finish line with aching hips and feet.

I’m not going to ever lie here on this blog, remember, so as tempting as it is to say WHOAAAAA what a champion I am I’ll be honest and tell you that the last couple of inclines my husband was pretty much pulling me. There. It was 100% much, much harder than I thought and those last six miles with steep inclines nearly did me in. Weirdly it was the last mile which was only downhill that was the worst and I actually thought I might not make it, I was THAT exhausted and felt like I was going to collapse. I’ve never been in a situation before when I’ve been so physically spent that it’s literally been a case of putting one foot in front of the other – that was all I was thinking during that last mile: one more, one more, and again, one more…. Also, I’m no good with heat as it is and sweat like a truck driver at the tiniest hint of sun, but this was something else. Without the heat, I know my hips and feet would have ached just as much but the heat was brutal. It might not have been any easier in more tolerable temperatures or even a bit of wind or shade, but fuck me that heat was vicious!

Thought the start photo was funny – check out Miss Contrary in the bottom right corner refusing to wear the green top. When I stand out it’s rarely for the right reasons, but hey ho. It wasn’t refusal so much as a matter of comfort though and had it not been so goddamn hot I would have happily worn the thick race day top. My friend Cherokee (who regularly does crazy shit like marathons and various long terrain races) had warned me against anything with seams, so my trusty super thin and seamless blue top it had to be. Unlucky for you, I have also hidden hubby’s gorgeous face just like I do with any photos I add here that happen to have friends or family in them. He probably wouldn’t mind, in fact he’ll probably ask me why I’ve done that and might even be a little offended, but he hasn’t asked to have his beautiful face displayed on this blog so unless he takes issue he’ll remain anonymous. He’s also on a plane to Prague with work as I write this so I can’t ask him anyway. I suppose you’ll just have to trust me when I say he was carved by angels.

OK, that’s it, I’m done and I’m sorry if that was all a bit obnoxious!

Sooooo…. Drinking. I’m not drinking. 167 days. I look at that number and find it quite unbelievable. I just don’t know if I ever TRULY believed I could do it. I know it’ll never be a case of “oh, I’m cured now!” and I’ll have to stay on task for the rest of my days, but whatever happens in the future I can still go back to this day and see those digits knowing it happened. And where are we right now? Not struggling but yes, I absolutely do feel like having a drink now and again. Not every day and it’s only been two occasions that I can think of when I was close to actually choosing death over life – OK, now I sound like a real drama queen, but that’s where drinking will take me because I’m an alcoholic and can’t drink like “normal people”. It’d be silly, or even dangerous, for me to think of it in any other way. I was killing myself the way I was going, period. So yes, two occasions when I very nearly did or at the very least REALLY wanted to. But I’m still sober and that feels really awesome.

I’ve learnt so much about myself over these five and a half months and I’m so grateful I got to that stage when I knew I wanted to change before it got much worse or had been too late. Don’t ever think I don’t know how lucky I am. Who knows what irreversible damage I’ve already done – I dread to think what I put my body through and every time I feel my heart beating hard, especially on the rare occasion that I have palpitations, I whisper ‘I’m sorry’ and hope to God I haven’t broken it. And those poor organs who had to battle so hard to cope with the poison in my blood stream. I did often have an ache in my lower back, which I assume might have been my kidneys. Any blood tests I had, including the one I had done in spring with a few months of sobriety in the bag, always showed good liver function (which drunky-drunk here always took for a green light to continue) but I don’t know how much of the story a blood test can tell. Probably very little. I simply don’t know if I stopped in time or if there’ll be a price to pay, but even if it turns out I left it too late to change my course I still know I’ll be better placed to pay my dues sober, whatever they may be. Sorry, that sounds very glum but I don’t want to minimise how serious alcoholism is or what it does. Sobriety, however, cannot be overestimated and no matter what the future holds I know that so long as I stay sober I can continue to recover the person I was always meant to be and even take a good shot at stuff like dreams and ambitions, YAY! Not a bad deal, is it?

Oh, another thing that just dawned on me is that this week is probably more of a risk zone for me than others as hubby is away. Because we’ve had a super busy summer so far and always something going on, I just haven’t had time to dread him being away and perhaps that’s why that devilish ping! with accompanying illusions of wine hasn’t popped into my head. Well, it isn’t there, or at least not yet.

Should it be hard to resist it if it does happen? So let’s break it down. I think sobriety so far hasn’t felt difficult because I just haven’t wanted to drink. Even on those two occasions I can think of when the urge got quite strong I can’t say it was a battle to the death to get through it. Mostly there is no will power required whatsoever, which is entirely logical given you don’t need any to avoid doing something you don’t want to do anyway. And I know I don’t want to drink. I can’t think of a single benefit drinking would give me, not a one. Dragging my fat arse over those last hills Saturday just gone took all my might though. The fucking will power I had to use to get through those last few miles was an enormous effort and a case of genuinely not wanting to go on coupled with doubting I’d be able to. So I keep thinking that if my brain goes ping! it really shouldn’t be difficult. On Saturday I knew I wanted to finish, I wanted that achievement and sense of accomplishment. After fighting those last miles I knew that finishing would feel SO good. So there was a reason to go against what I really wanted to do – give up – and go on. I have no reason to drink. Literally nothing at all. Mm…. See, I’m getting quite scared just writing this and perhaps it’s myself I’m trying to convince more than tell anyone reading this how pointless drinking is. I suppose if anything it shows the ugly and devious nature of alcoholism, how even when booze brings you nothing but harm and misery we still go on drinking.

I feel cautiously confident though. My hips are very sore and right now my 90-yearold grandmothers are both more sprightly and agile than I am, but I feel good and aching hips are better than aching kidneys – holy crap, I can’t even believe I typed that just now as if you could ever compare! Sober Me is who I want to be. I want to be the Anna who lives her life fully, not Drunk Me. It’s Sober Me standing there exhausted at the finish line with hubby. Drunk Me could never feel as good as that chick, much less do that. There – no contest.

Today, God willing, I am not going to drink.

Nuts and Tricks

Well, thank God for that – I can’t say last night was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had but it was a vast improvement given the previous two and I am starting to feel like myself again. I think we’re all set for our hike tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to walking along the south coast and across the Seven Sisters with hubby. We’re also over the last hump with Bambino and the explosion we had, but I guess I have to be a realist on that score and make my peace with the fact that he’s a teenager and we in all likelihood have the worst storms still ahead of us. If I can manage to ride those out without losing control each time, I’m sure we’ll emerge on the other side with just the average amount of wounds you can expect from the teenage years.

Funny. I spoke with my dad, who happened to call me on Hurricane Night, when I sat on the sofa exhausted after the explosive row I had with my son. I chuckled and told him I don’t know how he survived my teenage years (given my son is a carbon copy of his mother inside and out and my poor father had to endure me) and I actually asked him how he even got through it. Dad laughed, possibly enjoying this delightful little case of Karma. When I later spoke with Bambino, I apologised for losing my cool like that and told him I felt awful that I hadn’t managed to stay calm. I also told him that my own parents never lost it like that, and in the moment that was truthful – I couldn’t remember a single instance when they went nuts the way I did just then. And it turns out it was my brain playing tricks on me again, because when I thought about it more, old memories started to emerge from the depths of my mind where they’d been buried. Because we had hurricanes too. Lots of them.

hurricane

The time my dad shouted at me so much my uncle kept telling him to stop because the stuff he was yelling at me was too much and too far – yes, he lost it. 100%. (I’d failed to come home at the agreed time and he turned up furious at my then boyfriend’s house to get me home – I swear he was frothing at the mouth).  The time my mum slapped me across the face and her heartbroken expression a micro second later – yep, she lost it. 110% you might say, and I think if I ever brought it up she would be mortified. I’d imagine she still feels that slap burning her hand and feels awful about it. (I’d sneaked out and had a cigarette and then lied straight to her face when she confronted me). And here we are now, almost 30 years later and it’s me who’s the parent to a young teenager and when I think of those times my own parents lost control I can totally see why. It’s just that I’d forgotten that they ever did. I’d forgotten, now that I have them both on pedestals and beat myself up when I don’t get it right, that they fucked up too. Just as we all do. It’s never going to be OK to lose control like that, but I’m going to try not to be so hard on myself. Or at the very least stop making myself believe all other parents do it all much better.

And drinking? Nope, still sober. But then I’ve had a shitty week and even when I was drinking I feel like it less when I’m down so in terms of sobriety this week has been plain sailing. 164 days sober, they’re adding up! Like it.

It’s unbearably hot at the moment, and even though my office is probably the coolest room in the house it’s still uncomfortable. I can’t wait to be done for today, end this week, get home and start the weekend. Bambino has one of his stepbrothers over to keep him company (and ensure the house doesn’t burn down) as hubby and I will be heading off down to Brighton for our hike at 6am. We need to get there for about 7.30am to park, register and then we’re off! The downside is we’ll be missing the football – Sweden are playing England tomorrow and as much as it’d shred my nerves to watch the game, it’s a bit of a bummer we’ll miss it. Going to see if we can listen to it en route perhaps, or at least parts of it. Or get someone to text us the scores. Or we just don’t give a fuck about any of that and keep our phones tucked away and enjoy an amazing day trekking along the beautiful south coast of England. Just a thought!

So here’s to hoping I’ll get a good night’s sleep and that there’ll be a nice breeze tomorrow as it’s tiring just sitting in front of a computer in this heat…..

Adieu to this crappy week now. Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Butterflies in Mordor

My bad mood and terrible sleep now combine to a headache that I just cannot seem to shift. At home, what should only have been a calm discussion between my son and I culminated in a screaming match during which I totally lost control, resulting in us once again hugging each other an hour later and both in tears. Moments like that I wouldn’t even argue if someone told me I’m too rubbish to be called a mother and from now on only be referred to as Gestation Facility as pregnancy seems at times to be the only thing I did somewhat well and without completely fucking up. Not proud of myself at all. And when it comes to arguing, the apple has fallen so close to the tree I’m not sure it’s even detached from its branch – my son is a master wordsmith and I’m pretty sure he could make a brick bleed out of frustration alone if he set his mind to it. When we finally managed to TALK and were friends again, he gave me a lopsided smile and said:

You and I are like the butterfly effect.

I think there’s a film with that title but haven’t seen it and I had actually no idea what this means. It sort of sounds like something bittersweet though, has a sadness and a sense of fragile beauty to it somehow.

If it’s at precisely the right moment in precisely the right place, it’s enough that a butterfly flaps its wings to start a hurricane,” he told me.

There is no better way to describe us when we clash. The actual issue drowns almost immediately as we both spin furiously out of control and get caught up in frustration and anger to the point that we’re lying there on the battle ground in our own blood not knowing what we’re meant to be fighting for but that we didn’t want the other hurt. There is no one who can push my buttons like he can, no one who can make me angrier, but as I told him, this is because there is no one I love as much as I love him. There’s a Swedish saying that goes “den man älskar agar man” which basically means that we hurt the ones we love. It makes sense I suppose, just like no one can make us hurt more than the ones we love. Entirely logical even though it doesn’t make it easier. Luckily, butterflies and hurricanes aside, we seem to be able to express love as well as anger so we always end up in a good place but I really am disappointed with myself for losing control like that – it’s my damn job to hold it together. Bambino is a teenager and it’s HIS job to be rebellious and difficult, not mine.

Well. Today is a new day and I can’t change what’s been, so as with much else I can just try harder to learn from past mistakes and try harder to be better than before. If I keep focusing on how much I’ve fucked up in the past – even yesterday – I’ll just end up feeling like shit. I need to remember my fuck-ups as a motivation to do better, but not focus on them. Sometimes a fine line and a hard balance to keep, don’t you agree? However, Rome wasn’t built in one day and I do give myself some slack given I’m basically re-learning how to do life now that I’m sober. It’s quite mad to think that for over a decade there are very few experiences I went through, very few situations I faced and very few decisions I made without either being drunk or hungover. For example I can’t honestly tell you if I have even been in a job interview without battling a hangover – that would have been the sort of thing I would have wanted to avoid having a hangover for but rarely succeeded, if ever. So this life thing? It’s kinda new.

With the sleeping – or the lack thereof – this week, I’m going to have to get this back to normal. Well, back to my new, sober normal obviously as the sleep I was getting when I was drinking was terrible. We have a marathon length hike on Saturday across the south coast so to rock up in Brighton Saturday morning with a headache from sleeping badly would not be fantastic. I know there are natural remedies you can take to get you relaxed but for someone who spent years poisoning herself I am surprisingly reluctant to take pills or supplements that alter the way I feel. Even the prescription medicine I have to combat the pain for fibroids I don’t take unless it’s so bad I can’t cope. Why? Because I believe it’s always better to allow your body to feel what it’s meant to be feeling even if it’s pain. Isn’t that the funniest thing you’ve ever heard coming from a DRUNK?!?!?! I know, I’m fucking hilarious. But it’s all true. Yet another example that highlights, I suppose, how brainwashed we are when it comes to booze. Pain relief? No thanks, I don’t like to put stuff into my body that isn’t natural. A large glass of a substance that kills more people than any other drug AND as a cherry on top is proven to increase your risk of getting a whole variety of cancers? Oh, yes please!

You know, I think you could write a whole book on the madness of alcohol brainwashing alone. A trilogy, even, showing how the power of booze makes Mordor seem like Disneyland.

Back to my shitty week though. About three weeks into my sobriety it was my birthday and then Valentine’s Day. On the latter we ended up having a puncture, so there we were in the freezing cold and being whipped by sideways rain with me trying to hold an umbrella that was about as effective as a napkin and hubby on all fours trying to change the damn tyre. It was not the best half hour and we were both chilled to the bone by the time we were seated. I told my sponsor about it when I saw her the following day and she exclaimed “oh my God, and you still didn’t drink! That’s what I call a result!“. This is one of the things in AA that I’ve probably struggled with the most, i.e. the idea that we drink to overcome hardship or difficult feelings. Or indeed that all addiction comes from a void inside somehow. You know, this could all be true, and I won’t deny that the “restlessness, discontent and irritability” I first heard described by my awesome Willow as a root cause for alcoholism has played heavily on my mind during this staggeringly crappy week I’m having. It makes me shit myself to think that how I’ve been feeling this week might come from within, that this is just what it’s going to be like to be me from now on and these previous five-plus sober months was just a bit of a joke. Right in this moment I honestly couldn’t tell you for sure what I believe, so the jury is out on that score, but any time I’m stressed or feeling glum – and this applies to when I was drinking too – I don’t particularly want to drink. Last night was massively stressful and upsetting and the idea of a drink could not have been further from my mind beyond consciously thinking to myself before bed that thank God I’m not drinking and how much more stressful and upsetting it had been if I were. So to be honest, if I need to spend the rest of my days as grumpy as I’ve been this week, it might be a really excellent way to stay sober.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was drinking a bad mood didn’t always stop me and I have drunk on every goddamn mood a human being could possibly have because, well, I’m an alcoholic. My greatest trigger, however, is a good mood and/or great things happening. You wouldn’t think it reading my blog this week, but I’m actually a pretty happy bunny most of the time, and with a good mood making me want to drink… ..let’s say I’ve done a lot of celebrating in my time. So my first sponsor’s insistence on how ALL drunks ALWAYS drink because of negative emotions made it hard for me to really get on board with it. I think it just took me a while to realise and accept that, well, no actually – she is describing her own experience and perspective and I’m not less of a drunk just because my experience doesn’t exactly match hers. I’m a drunk too, you ignorant cow! #drunktoo

So here we are and in 48 hours from now we’ll probably be about a third of the way from Brighton to Eastbourne. How hard can it be? I have two nights ahead, both of which I pray to God will give me some quality sleep although these hills look fairly harmless, don’t you think?

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I think it could so easily turn into a vicious circle. Last night I really wanted to sleep, and needed it. And there I was, worried the night would be as bad as the one before and sure enough, the moment I let worry into my mind I was fucked and even though it wasn’t anywhere near as awful as the previous night it still took me forever to get to sleep. So I need a really great way of getting myself into the sleep zone this evening.

If anyone has any really great ways of laying the foundations to a wonderful night’s sleep, please let me know.

Today I’m not going to drink.

A Sad Little Drunk

Two blog posts in a day! Well, this was actually what I was going to write before but got side tracked and caught up in what it’s like to truly feel all my emotions. I suppose this relates to that, because I’m going to show you something really, really ugly. I’m going to show you the very opposite of feeling emotions. It’s me and I’m in black-out. Here it is:

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It’s a few years ago with my friend L. In a way it’d be better if you saw her face, not only because she is beautiful but because you can still see a person in her eyes. Her eyes are glittery and sure, she’s also being a bit drunk here, but she’s not blank in the way that I am here. There’s nothing in my gaze – can you see it? I look at this and it makes me want to cry. Look at that poor woman. I feel so sorry for her. I have no recollection of this taxi journey and not only because some years have passed, I know I didn’t remember any of it because I was in full on Beer Fear mode the next day and what I do clearly remember is the shame I felt. Not in case I’d said or done something stupid (as usual) but because I’d allowed myself to get full on Anna drunk in front of not just my friend L and her then-boyfriend-now-husband J but also my sister-in-law M too. Like they hadn’t seen it before and like I’d had a choice – I’m a goner with the first drink and I guess this was no different.

So whilst I’m having a crappy, shitty, horrible, stupid week, I may as well direct some sadness where it’s due: to that sad, sad drunk in the picture with the glazed over eyes that can’t focus. Someone who is a smart and kind woman but here is robbed of everything and is stripped and torn right down to a tragic state where she’s a lolling fool. I can barely look at it. She’s also a mum. Right about here she has a son who is six years old. That’s his mum right there.

In this photos I’m not feeling any real emotions. Whatever I do feel – and who knows, because that moment is lost to black-out – during this taxi ride is either amplified or numbed by booze. My eyes are empty and so am I. I’ve seen one other photo of myself in black-out and it’s the same empty stare. And I think it perfectly illustrates what alcohol does to me – it destroys everything that is me. It removes me from my life and changes me. Can you see it? Not that you have much to compare with as you don’t know me, but I think the empty eyes are blatantly obvious. It’s so ugly. Alcohol is evil. Or how I react to it, rather. Plenty of people, like my friend L for example whose eyes are not at all empty in this photo, who can handle it. But I can’t. Never have and never will.

I just wanted to show you that sorry little drunk. I feel so bad for her and it breaks my heart to know this is me.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Worry Clouds and Melon Sorbet

The first thing sobriety changed for the better for me almost immediately was my sleep. From terrible sleeping patterns with waking up several times with the sweats and palpitations, it was only a few days in that I ended up falling asleep quickly (although to be fair, when I was drinking I’d be out like a light) and then sleep solidly until morning. Because being sober is a change for me, I’ve taken pleasure in noting all changes and even when I’ve felt bad for whatever reason I’ve enjoyed being able to experience my emotions completely as they are without anaesthesia. Even when I’ve felt really crappy it’s been a positive thing to just be faced with the actual crap, as opposed to a big, wet cluster fuck of wine soaked mess that may or may not contain an actual message from my soul. Plus I used to be too fucked from either being too drunk or too hungover to begin to untangle it anyway. Goes without saying that no matter what I’m feeling, when those emotions come along I’m awake, alert and ready to take them on no matter what they’re bringing me.

And here’s where I want to salute Mother Nature again for equipping me with this excellent survival system – all our senses are there to keep us alive! Even fear is our friend, if you think about it, Mother Nature’s genius way of letting us know that we need to watch out. And so I think of feelings as my subconscious sending me signals. Feeling good = keep doing that! Feeling bad = hm, let’s have a look at what’s going wrong here shall we?

This week has been quite crappy so far. I’ve been irritable and unsettled. Some I’ve assumed to be the work of hormones given I do get a bit down when Auntie Flo pays a visit, but this is worse than I usually get. I’ve slept badly over the past few nights. Not as badly as I did when I was drinking, but much worse than at any other point during these blissful five-plus months of sweet sobriety. Nightmares, lying awake, having trouble going to sleep. Can I just say though, that even when I’m feeling off and sleep badly, I still get to wake up without a hangover so even after a night of bad sleep I’m feeling miles better than I did during the Drunken Years. Either way, it’s been horrible lying there in the dark, unable to get comfortable, my jaw clenched and thoughts spinning webs of worry and anxiety. My jaw is cramping and achy – it’s where I carry stress. Some people carry it in their shoulders, for me it’s in my jaw.

Because I get to feel properly for the first time since I was actually in my late twenties, I don’t know what to make of it and it really frightens me. This isn’t a chemically induced alco dip. This is the stuff I’m feeling and I can’t immediately see any logical reason. Oh yeah, and there it is – my heart is beating faster than normal too. Hello palpitations, long time no see, how’ya been? What if I’m now plunging into depression or anxiety, or, heaven forbid, both? I’ve not been sober long enough before to truly feel everything so now that I do it can be overwhelming. What is this? Is it anxiety? Is it a lurking depression? The rational part of me kicks in and I decide I can only begin to understand this by spending some time with ME. Hubby is also tossing and turning, plus we went to bed pissed off with each other so his tossing is of the exaggerated kind – it’s like trying to fall asleep in a bouncy castle loaded with toddlers. When I’m confident he’s finally gone to sleep, I get up as quietly as I can, picking up my trackie bottoms and tank top from the floor and take them with me as I tip-toe out of the bedroom. I only put them on when I’m in the living room. And there I sit, at 1.30am, vaping and wishing I could make myself some coffee, giving my soul a private audience and waiting for it to help me understand what it’s trying to tell me.

Except the occasional breath that tastes of melon sorbet and menthol, I focus on my breathing and although it’s dark I close my eyes as an invitation to my mind to serve up any stresses I need to deal with. What are the images? What are the emotions? What am I so in knots about? Most of all I try to figure out what I’m feeling just sitting there alone in the middle of the night with only myself for company, doing nothing but breathing. I figure if I discover it’s uncomfortable I’m in trouble. What if it’s being me that’s uncomfortable and has me in this state? What then? I feel a little tearful at the thought but I know that I need to face this head on and if I can stare down the beast I can bloody search within myself for the cause of pain if I have to. So I do. For someone who has always detested any new age hippy-dippy shit I’m not exactly good at this but do my best. Inhale, exhale, fill my chest and then let it sink back – over and over until my mind agrees to focus on this only. I like it. It’s relaxing and it feels good. I go on to “think through” my whole body – this is quite funny because it’s something my childhood friend M sort of taught me. She used to get stoned and then do this as a way to relax her whole body and then claimed it was like she was in some sort of trance like state. I’ve never been much for drugs and so didn’t join in when it came to weed, but this little procedure of hers did stay with me. I start from the bottom up: I think of my toes, each one in turn and what they look like, the position they’re in, both visualise and feel each part and then the same thing throughout my entire body moving up through my feet, legs and so on. It doesn’t send me into a different dimension (possibly because I’m not stoned) but it does do the trick and I can finally feel my jaw relax and the tension in me lift.

When I’ve untied mind from being bundled up in a tight and whirring tangle of anxiety, the spikes go from struggling to buzz and strike at me all at once and all my worries and fears are just floating around me in separate little clouds, I can calmly examine them one by one. They don’t feel so charged and prickly anymore because I’ve given them this audience and each will have their turn instead of trying to shoot and crackle their way into my conscious that’s been locked down by anxiety.

Yup, there’s stuff in one in particular that hurts no matter how I turn it over. I feel the bumps and lumps and discover I can’t heal this pain or change it. This can only be lived through but I do reluctantly realise I have to be less selfish and that some of the angst I feel comes from putting myself first and losing sight of what’s important. Chuck in a little forgiveness and the tangle is less severe. The little cloud of worry still hovers around me and will continue to do so, possibly for a very, very long time and maybe even forever, but if I can reel myself back in like this once in a while and regain my focus on what matters it’s going to be much easier. I find a number of other little clouds that are just pathetic. The sort of clouds that have formed because I’ve just fucking lost another few marbles – stuff I’ve ended up worrying about for no apparent reason and even if there was reason to worry there’s nothing I can do about it. Those clouds I need to figure out what to do with – how to stop wasting energy worrying about stuff I can do literally fuck all about. Answers on a postcard please. With the rest of the little clouds that patiently wait there as they’re hovering around me, it’s mostly a case of acknowledging them and trying to be really fucking zen about it. Genuinely try to give each problem a little score or label to indicate how real and important it is and my level of power to change it.

So nothing has changed, really. It’s in the middle of the night and I’ve just sat on my own in a dark room with nothing but my breathing for company. But my thoughts, or my worry clouds rather, have calmed down because I gave them my full attention and that made them stop shooting lightning all over my mind like the little drama queens that they are.

I quietly and carefully creep back into bed. I don’t cuddle up to hubby because I’m still pissed off with him and at this point he is to my mind the one of us who was more of a dick last night. I may engage in the odd little spell of meditation but I’m still me and right now he’s a git. And that’s OK. My thoughts have quietened, worry and stress at least temporarily lifted and clouds dispersed for now. And I can finally sleep.

Oh, I’m still having a shitty week. But hey, that’s cool too. At least I know what I’m feeling, what I’m ACTUALLY feeling and not a haze of booze depression or paranoia. All home grown worry clouds here, folks! Au natural!

Today I’m not going to drink.

The State of Vera’s Glass

Ever encountered an energy thief? I can, as I write this, think of two people in my life who can with just a look sap me of energy and drain away every last little happy vibe. I don’t know where it comes from but perhaps it’s again all back to this need we all probably have: see me, see me! Some wish to be acknowledged, appreciated, validated. I’m trying to live my life according to a whole bunch of new principles and perspectives, and one of them is “never assume bad intent“. This means I am making a concerted effort to stop for a moment and not go with my initial reaction when the reaction is negative. I.e. when I feel irritated, offended or even angry. My intention is to pause for a moment and ascertain if my reaction is indeed valid due to another’s crappy action, or if it’s an exaggerated or even faulty response mechanism that engages and fires because there is something in me that’s off somehow. If I land at the conclusion that the action itself is crappy and my reaction to it is sound, I want to see if I can understand where it’s come from because I just don’t believe there are many people who are just inherently shitty. Gosh, talk about over analysing stuff, but I’m in that sort of mood this week. And yes, I am irritable, possibly due to hormones. Hah! It kind of frightens me to think what I might be like when I hit the menopause and they kick in for real, I’ll be delightful I’m sure.

Anyway.

For all my flaws and shortcomings, I think anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m a pretty positive person. My default setting seems to be sunny. Thank God. They’d possibly also say I’m sensitive. I mean, you could probably quite easily, with minimum effort make me either feel really low or exuberantly high. Boom. Case in point: if my bosses are sour faced and quiet I immediately feel a bit ill and assume they hate me, but if they are smiley and chatty it’s enough to make me feel appreciated and accomplished. Both reactions in me that are utterly disproportionate to the actions themselves. But I know this – my emotional antenna is WAY too finely tuned and I can plunge into both inexplicable joy and sorrow for others as well as myself. Exhausting, as I’m sure you can imagine. Another thing I am working on but generally accept to be part of who I am, but being aware of it does help. We’re all different and whereas some people are more sensitive to, say, physical pain or bright lights or strong flavours or whatever it might be, it just happens to be the case that I get the feels very easily. It does also mean that whenever there’s an energy thief around, I go down faster than a fat kid on a see-saw.

One of the two energy thieves I could think of just now that I’m writing this is Vera. I’m naming her that because she was drinking an aleo vera drink just earlier with the motivation it might make her less tired. I like Vera a lot, she is super duper sweet, but I don’t think she has EVER responded to my “how are you?” with anything other than a sad grimace and a so-so hand gesture. OK, I can’t say I’m a bundle of boundless joy this week and we all have our ups and downs – of bloody course we do, it’s LIFE! – but Vera’s glass is not even half full, it’s never had anything in it, the fucking glass is empty. Worse than that, it’s broken and she has severely cut her mouth as a result. Her tongue is almost completely severed and she is bleeding to death. That’s the state of Vera’s glass.

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I don’t know where it comes from in Vera’s case. It’s not that she is spoilt and just won’t appreciate what she has, because she has worked her arse off her whole life and has built up an impressive life from nothing. She’s had nothing handed to her and her work ethic would put any of us to shame. Especially me, unfocused and lazy bugger that I am. Vera’s life I’m sure many would envy. Due to aforementioned hard work, she has now placed herself in a very nice position for the future, having laid solid foundations not only for her baby daughter but also for any further “at least one more” children she and her partner may have. At a glance, she’s got it made. And yet she never has a good day, never seems to be really happy about anything. Of course, I’m sure people could look at me and say the same things – list a bunch of stuff off the cuff and conclude I have nothing to complain about. I have a happy and healthy kid and a loving husband, and we live in a home where we are warm and safe, never worrying about putting food on the table. I’m sure for many people someone else could just take a brief look in through the window and not see any reason why we might complain, and of course there is always more to everything than first meets the eye. I just think some of us are wired the way Vera seems to be and focus on the downers more than the uppers, even when the uppers are right up in our faces. I don’t want this to slip into a discussion about depression, which is something different altogether and comes for you regardless of whether you’re a prince or a pauper. Depression doesn’t give a shit about reasons to be happy or sad, it’s nothing to do with that. Well – I don’t know enough about depression to embark on anything further, so let’s leave it there. This post is about energy thieves and a negative outlook on life, and what I’ve diagnosed Vera with is a piss poor, negative, broken glass attitude.

If I compliment her on her hair, she complains that she found a grey hair and if I say her dress really suits her she’ll complain she gained a few pounds. If I tell her that her daughter is so lovely, Vera will immediately point out how she kept her up all night. If I comment that it must be such a great feeling knowing she’s nearly paid off her mortgage she sighs and recounts how she feels like an old lady due to working. Actually, the way she put it was like this: “oh, I probably won’t get to enjoy it, my body is worn out, it will be too old too soon“. Vera is in her early 30s and is a waitress. Yes, she is on her feet all day and yes, she carries stuff around more than an office worker, but REALLY?

Unless she has some awful, devilish side to her I’ve never seen, this just can’t come from a bad place. Perhaps she needs reassurance that she has done well. Like we all do sometimes, perhaps she wants and needs a pat on the back for having worked so hard? I’ve tried to say to her that it’s impressive to have done what she’s done but it only results in that wistful look and an exasperated sigh over how life is so tough. I don’t want to take any of that away from her, I don’t want to minimise how she feels because her experience is her experience and it’s not up to me to validate or approve it. It just makes me feel so TIRED. So it’s back to me. Me, me, me. I soak up her words and her vibes and magnify them within myself to the point where I am massively affected by them and allow them to adjust my own outlook from happy to sad. Because I do feel sad any time I’ve had a chat with Vera. I’m left feeling a little exhausted, actually.

Then take Olive, named here due to her olive skin that I envy enormously, who may have what many of us would refer to as ‘It All’ but whose young son has a rare form of cancer and has spent more days at hospital than he has at home. Olive can absolutely talk of the heartbreak and absolute nightmare they endure on pretty much a daily basis, but she just doesn’t sweat the small stuff. If I compliment her on her dress she’ll light up and do a twirl and comment on either where she got it or how she bought one in a different colour too because she loves the material. If we talk about grey hair she’ll giggle about something or make a joke and somehow I walk away not with fewer grey hairs but certainly much less worried about any of them. In fact I walk away quite liking the grey hairs I have after discussing them with Olive. Olive has that effect and it’s the very opposite to Vera.

Funny, isn’t it? Goes to show how life and our experiences are a direct result of our thoughts and attitude. I believe that 100%. OK, so we can’t THINK away cancer or the like, but we can always, every time and without exception choose our approach and reactions or at least do something about those. I think if Vera had Olive’s attitude, she’d bounce up each morning and feel gratitude. With Vera’s attitude I reckon Olive would have just given up. Or dragged the whole world down with her. It’s one of the first things about doing the 12 steps really, as far as I’m concerned, or anything at all that we decide to do: having hope. Without hope and a belief that it’ll all come good, where do we get the energy to even try or begin? When I speak with Vera I get the impression that she feels hopeless, that she’s just doing all of this but it’s all pretty pointless and she’ll never have any reward. Well, her body is getting too old too soon, remember? Then Olive, who seems to approach each day with a sense of purpose and hope. World’s apart.

Again, I don’t know what it is that makes Vera so negative about life or so prone to immediately focus on the downsides even in the face of something really positive, but I do know that as usual there is only one thing I can control: myself. I’m not sure how to though, because I’m not going to cut Vera off or stop talking to her. As I mentioned, she is actually a super lovely person. I need to somehow not let it grate on me or get me down when she focuses on the negatives in situations. But how?

Do you know an energy thief who also happens to be someone you either can’t or won’t cut off? How do you manage your reaction to them? Is there a clever way of being immune to their negativity?

In other news, it’s the battle of the neutrals this afternoon – Sweden vs Switzerland in the World Cup. I try to tell myself I don’t care that much, but I do. And then England vs Colombia. The English fans are always really cocky and it’s all football’s coming home, but who knows, they might be right as long as they don’t underestimate Colombia…

Today I’m not going to drink.

Dancing With Hemorrhoids

There’s this woman who really rubs me up the wrong way. It’s ridiculous because I don’t know her and I’ve never met her in my life, we just happen to be part of the same Facebook group. Because this is so pathetic (on my part obviously, not hers) it made me wonder why it is that I allow myself to become wound up at what someone says online. And, may I add, nothing she’s ever expressed in that Facebook group has been aimed at me personally or anything I could possibly take offence at. It’s mad, isn’t it? I can only conclude that I have too much time on my hands or something, but that can’t be it because life is usually busy. Am I bitter and alone? Is that it? Nope, not that either. At least I don’t think I am? Am I? No. Surely not. I wake up each morning, this one included, feeling happy and content. Except yesterday, I wasn’t fucking content then with a cramping uterus. But this isn’t about my period cramps from hell. It’s about me being mysteriously bothered by a woman I don’t know and with whom I have zero dealings. I need to figure this out – right now! – and once I have, rightfully feel bloody stupid and laugh at myself before proceeding to let this nonsense go. Here goes.

Let’s call her Needs-a-Poo because when I read what she writes I imagine her voice to be like when you really need to do a poo or are in the process of squeezing out something akin to a bear’s arm. It’s not as nice or poetic as Dances With Wolves (and may we all take a moment here to appreciate Kevin Costner’s arse, although 20 years on it probably doesn’t look like that anymore) but I am in a bitchy mood and also petulantly childish, the woman irritates me and this is my blog so I name people what I want.

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Actually, looking at it now in that picture it’s nowhere near as good as I remembered it to be and Mr Costner also has chicken legs, eurgh. His bottom (even here, 20 years ago) is a bit flat, no? I need to sneakily take a photo of hubby and stick on here to illustrate naked male perfection, the guy has the most divine bottom and his legs should be fucking illegal. I swear if I weren’t married to him I’d end up in prison for just what goes on in my head when aforementioned divine bottom and illegal legs are on display. I hate people who brag and I hate people who are smug, but again, this is my blog although now it’d appear I’m behaving precisely in Needs-a-Poo’s online manner. Can’t express it enough though, my husband is what I, if I weren’t married to him, would refer to as prison bait. I literally can’t walk past him without slapping him on the bum or pinching or groping him. Even when he’s eating and dropping half a sandwich down his front (I keep wondering what happens at work lunches and dinners – I mean, how on earth does he get by then?) I want to molest him. Perfection in a lovely well built kiwi package. Yummy–dum-dum. OK, enough, I feel Bad Me taking over and need to get back to what I was actually wanting to talk about. Needs-a-Poo.

So what does she write and comment on that makes me spend energy sighing and rolling my eyes? Well, it’s exactly what I’ve just engaged in without inhibition – bragging. So the discussion could be about anything at all but the most recent I can think of was a parenting discussion around bedtimes. Most people then added what time their kids go to bed and their ages. Needs-a-Poo did the same but went on to add that her precious dahr-ling does swimming before school and then pony riding and tennis after so she’s oh so tired and needs plenty of sleep. Another time someone had asked a question related to school uniforms and Needs-a-Poo felt the need to get in to her response how unique and gifted her child is. I genuinely don’t know why it grates on me the way it does! But anyway, Needs-a-Poo always seems eager – or even desperate – to put across how nice her house is, how well her kid is doing at school or whatever, what a good area they live in and so on. I honestly can’t read her comments without groaning and much eye-rolling.

So I think I have just caught myself when I’m at my most cynical and negative when it comes to Needs-a-Poo. I chucked in a throw-away comment about Kevin Costner’s bottom which was totally random and not even in my head until I typed the first Indian name I could think of that was nicer than ‘Needs-a-Poo’ and that film popped into my head, followed by the scene with naked Mr Costner. I got the picture and then looked at it and realised that this male bottom I used to think was so delicious is nowhere nice as my husband’s. Et fucking cetera. And where did this come from? This incessant and frankly off putting bragging about how hot my husband is that then followed? Where? I’ll tell you where: it came from a place of the purest and strongest love and how I love that big old kiwi so much I can barely breathe. I’m fucking crazy about my lovely, sweet hubby. That’s where it came from. And how, when I look at anything or anyone he could possibly be compared to I can’t even see how the bottom belonging to one of the greatest Hollywood heartthrobs of our time is anything special because hubby is to me the dreamiest creature to ever inhabit this planet. And it’s like I can’t help but shout about it.

Why do I shout about it? Is there part of me who wants you, who reads this blog, to be impressed that I’m married to such a dreamy wonder? Probably not, actually, because you could be precisely the sort of smart, amazing, witty, attractive woman who could steal him away from not as smart, not very amazing, not as witty and not as attractive me! Is there a part of me who wants to show the world hey, this incredible guy chose ME!!!!! Possibly, but I can’t say it’s a huge motivation. Sure, I’m proud of him and I always feel such fondness for him when we’re around my friends and family, joyful at what a great person he is and it fills me with happiness to see how those I love also appreciate him and he them, but that’s not my reason for bragging. In fact, I sometimes feel guilty! Like when a sister-in-law asked what we’d done for Valentine’s and I said we’d had a lovely time and she went “of course you did, with that man!”. I almost felt like I wasn’t worthy. I felt sheepish telling her how hubby had got me flowers and presents and taken me out. I felt the need to tell her what great gifts I’d got for HIM. So do I brag because I want people to know he chose me because it’s ME who totally rocks? Do I brag because it’s lil’ ol’ me I want you to see?

Gosh, that might be approaching the real reason a little – I have, after all, always been utterly desperate for people to like me and care WAY too much what other people think of me. One tiny comment, even if it’s from someone I don’t even like, can crush me and be imprinted in my conscious forever. I’ve always known that about myself because it’s always been there, this inexplicable insecurity that so many of us seem to feel and this sensitivity that means I can go from invincible to dust with just one unkind word. So maybe, just maybe, I’m trying to not just see what’s great about me through hubby, but to get you to like me too. Because, you know, if someone as great as him loves me, then that must mean I’m very, very loveable.

Anyway!

When I brag about hubby, it comes from 1) a place of love, and 2) wanting to be loved.

So what about Needs-a-Poo? If we assume nothing is wrong with her, that in all likelihood means she’s just like any other parent, namely, she loves her daughter so much it’s driving her nuts and wants to shout it from the rooftops. It turns out her daughter is also the result of IVF and years spent trying and repeatedly grieving failure after failure. So perhaps even more so than your average, bog standard parent like me who didn’t go through the same heartbreak to get there, she is even more appreciative of the gift that is parenthood. Who knows? I don’t know where her need to demonstrate what they have in terms of material possessions (their house, their area, their cars and so on) comes from but perhaps she grew up with very little. Or she has worked her arse off to have a life she is now very, very proud of? Or she’s fucking irritating and an incorrigible smart arse braggy boots. Entirely possible too. Or she just wants to be seen and loved like the rest of us. Maybe that’s all there is to it, even if it’s irritating and the voice over that accompanies her comments sounds like someone who is pushing out a mega poo.

This is one of the reasons why I’m loving sobriety – not only do I get to feel all my emotions properly without modification, I also have the luxury of dissecting them and thereby understanding myself better. It’s really interesting – I’m soooooo much more fucked up than I realised and now I can get to know myself for real, fucked-upness and all. Fucked-upness is the new black. When a bad feeling comes, whatever it might be – sadness, anger or, in the case of Needs-a-Poo, irritation – I can slam on the breaks and take a proper look around and see where it came from. So when Needs-a-Poo bleats on about her precious kid, her house or whatever else, is it a case of me worrying that people will run out of love and none will be left for me? I don’t know, I honestly don’t. I do suspect, however, that even though she is infuriatingly, frustratingly annoying, it’s very likely it all just comes from love. So I’m going to close my eyes for a moment, say a little prayer and wish for good things for Needs-a-Poo. There! Don’t get me wrong, she annoys the crap out of me and I want to staple things to her head every time I read her smug and conceited comments and wish a bad case of hemorrhoids on her, but I am, after all, trying to stay connected to a better way of living and be a better me so less of the hemorrhoids and more of the assumption she is basically an OK person. I’m trying, OK?

Sobriety feels good today. No beast in sight at the moment and despite the beautiful summer weather the urge to drink hasn’t really come over me much over the past week. Hard not to imagine drinking when the rest of the world congregates at riverside pubs and beer gardens, but right now it’s plain sailing. In other words, a good time to not only feel gratitude but also be vigilant. Such is the nature of the beast. Ho-hum.

Today I’m not going to drink.