A Lovely Picket Fence

Holy cannoli – no sooner do I blog (last week) about having a new type of drinking dream – one in which the choice is mine and I say no – than I go right back to the original kind where it’s already too late. Yep, woke up and felt relieved but I also realised something that’s actually a little scary: I have steered and organised my life in such a way that if I were to slip and fall off the wagon, everything would fall apart. OK, so this is always the case no matter what my life looks like because inviting alcohol up to dance again would obviously mean I’d be destroying myself again. Booze will only ever mean darkness and destruction and eventually death. But the lines have been re-drawn.

I work at a rehab. I abandoned my old “career”. I first contacted them in the summer when I was about eight months sober. They took their time to see me and talk me through what possible paths into this industry would be, but they don’t even allow you to volunteer before you have one year of sobriety under your belt. Hence it wasn’t until the end of January this year that I quit my job in order to pursue this. I sat tight and waited things out for months and it felt like forever.

Not to blow my own trumpet too vigorously or anything (but OK, a little), I think my actions from the beginning underline how much I want to be sober. Almost immediately I told my family and friends – if I’d still deep down had ANY desire to keep drinking I would have left myself with several emergency exits. Nope, I plugged all of those gaps and holes and announcing my decision to those who love me was such an act – because I wanted out of the swamp of addiction so desperately, I figured the harder I made it for myself to sink back in the better my chances would be. If everyone around me knows I’m an alcoholic wanting to stay sober, it’s going to be pretty difficult (or MORE difficult at any rate) to go back. It was my way of putting out life lines all around me. No one in my life now would sit and watch me pour a glass of wine because they all know where it took me. I’ve made it painfully clear to everyone that this is something I will never ever be able to do. If I were to sink back now, they’d all spring into action. That’s a comforting thought. No one can keep me sober but ME, but having those you love aware of your situation means they’ll have your back and call you out if you stumble. There’s nowhere for me to hide now. No I’m-on-holiday excuses to my family when we visit Sweden.

In last night’s drinking dream, it was already too late. I’d been on a massive bender and was going to work. At the rehab. And I woke up just as I had in the dream been hit with the thought “oh shit, what happens now?“.

Indeed.

If I were to drink now, I’d be fucked. Not just because I’m an alcoholic and it’d kill me but because I’ve also decided to dedicate my working life to helping others find sobriety. That would all immediately be ruined. I’d no longer be able to pursue this thing I feel so passionate about. Well – not for another 365 days, anyway. I’d have shot myself in both feet and both kneecaps too. Wowsa.

It’s hard to describe how that feels. On the one hand it makes me feel really good because I’m so serious about this and want nothing else. On the other it’s terrifying to know how I’d wreck my life if I were to drink again, but having said that, it’s not exactly news! That’s always been the case and perhaps the EEK part of it is just the realisation that I’ve structured my life in a way now that means all those outs are well and truly blocked. That’s really just fantastic news, isn’t it? Yes, the desire and strength to stay sober will always have to come from me, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with adding some safety features around me. Like a lovely picket fence along the edges of my Pink Cloud.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Don’t Wanna, Not Gonna

Do you have drinking dreams? I’ve had them every so often since I stopped drinking and they’re horrible. In the dream it’s already too late – I land in the dream and the scenario is that I’ve already been drinking. It’s so shitty and the shame, guilt and sadness are all so palpable it terrifies me. Then I wake up and because those dark feelings are so real I actually feel hungover, just for that first second when I open my eyes. And of course a moment later I realise it was a dream – or nightmare, rather! – and feel so grateful that this isn’t me now. I didn’t drink last night and I haven’t woken up with a crippling hangover. It’s such a relief. I have always thought of those dreams as my subconscious saying to me “Remember this, girl? Don’t you dare forget!“. It’s not a nice reminder given I have to relive the shame and guilt and horror of my actions but I’ll have to say it’s been very effective because the relief I feel at realising it was a dream is so deep it makes me a bit tearful. Tearful in the way you might be when you’re through the worst part of something, like how Bambino cried after the tooth pulling ordeal. Relief.

So the other night I had a drinking dream but it was the first of its kind and different from the ones I’ve had before. I dreamt Hubby and I were on holiday and I was going to drink. The intention was there and I had decided I would. That’s where I landed in the dream. I was walking down a supermarket aisle, perusing the bottles of white wine to find the kind I’d like. And then, in the dream, I’m holding a bottle of wine in my hands to read the label and my stomach turned. Don’t wanna, not gonna. And that was it. Dream Me decided not to drink because she actually didn’t want to.

The difference between the two types of drinking dream is of course that in one I don’t have a choice and in the other I do. I don’t know if this is significant, if it means I’m more solid in my sobriety and this dream shows this, but it was quite nice. I won’t allow myself to get cocky though – I think the moment I’m fooled into thinking I have sobriety sussed, or worse, I’m “cured”, I’ll be in a world of trouble. Anyone else having those dreams? Of either variety?

I’m sitting in a really noisy cafe this morning with Hubby. It’s the nicest place on the high street, a small independent, family run cafe and they serve the best breakfast. The acoustics of the place are horrendous though and it’s not as if this morning’s crowd is a bunch of university students on a pub crawl – just average Joes like Hubby and I having coffee and breakfast – but the sound levels are awful. I wonder if it’s the high ceiling or the brick walls, but it’s deafening. It’s bad enough when we’re actually just working on our laptops but to have any type of conversation would mean shouting at each other. And that’s what everyone seems to have to do.

Before the place filled up and we were able to hear each other, I asked Hubby if he ever worries that I’ll relapse. Because he is such a kind soul, I sometimes wonder if he hides his own worry from me in order not to hurt me. I really wanted to know, perhaps part of me wanted to really reassure him I feel so much more confident these days. He has a demanding job and I don’t want him to have the added pressure of a wife who might fall (or jump) off the wagon.

This isn’t a trick question and I don’t want you to worry about hurting my feelings, OK?” I said and looked into Hubby’s beautiful, soulful, big blue eyes trying to emphasise my point by unflinching eye contact.

OK.

Do you ever worry I’ll start drinking again?

No,” came the answer immediately and he tilted his head slightly as he held my gaze.

Really? Not ever? Not even when you’re travelling? Isn’t there any part of you that frets over me going for it when I’m alone like I used to?

No. You’re so set on this.

Wow. OK,” I said and couldn’t help smiling, “but how about this – what if you were away and we talked on the phone and you can hear me slurring and then I tell you I’m drinking. What would happen then? I mean, what would you feel?

I’d be shocked,” Hubby responded, deadpan and shrugged his shoulders. “Just really surprised.

God, you’re so fucking balanced!” I laughed, “this won’t make an interesting blog post AT ALL! I was after angst and fear and gut wrenching Greek tragedy emotion!

Hubby just smiled and for a moment I just got a little lost in how I love his perfect face (the man was carved by angels, I swear) and those gorgeous eyes through which you can just about catch a glimpse of his glorious soul. I snapped out of ogling Hubby and forced myself back to all my questions.

But wouldn’t you feel anxious, like get a knot in your stomach?” I insisted.

I’d worry for you, yeah.

Jeez, the man is unshakable. I’ve never known anyone to be so calm about things. It doesn’t matter what it is – if the whole world was on fire, he’d just take a look at the situation and figure out the best way to put it out. Me? I’d shout and scream and panic and freak out and flap around like a crazed seagull on amphetamine.

What about for YOU? As in what it’d mean for you and what YOU would have to live with? Wouldn’t you be worried about going back to where I was? And have a wife whose drinking is out of control?

Of course. I want you to be and feel your best. I don’t want to see you in a situation where you can’t,” he told me matter of fact.

OK, OK. Hubby isn’t one to get worked up, not even by a world on fire or a binge drinking, black-out lush wife. Just glanced over at him across the table from me, he has his focused work face on. Brow furrowed and staring intently on the screen. He isn’t typing so he’s probably looking through a presentation or something. My rock. My mother gave a perfect speech at our wedding celebration and I’m going to be as brazen as to copy in her lines below – they sum up the man I married:

For all the reasons I have today to feel grateful, one of the biggest is, that it is you [Hubby], that my daughter has chosen for her husband. You are a kind and caring person that stands steady even in the stormiest weather. I trust you and your love for her. I welcome you and your sons, [Bonus #1] and [Bonus #2], to our family, something I do with all my heart.

Her whole speech was amazing and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Even my stepmother pointed out how great it was, and she isn’t one to throw compliments around her and certainly not to her husband’s first wife. But those few lines sum Hubby up. Sweet Lord, this has turned into some sort of ode to the wonder that is Hubby, but he really is so utterly wonderful and I’m a very, very lucky lady. I sometimes wonder if he married me for the challenge.

Today I’m not going to drink.