Hard As Fuck, But Entirely Possible

Being in recovery rocks for countless reasons, but as we’re heading into the very last of 2019 I discovered another little perk of being clean and sober: I don’t really have any of those health related new year’s resolutions to make that were the bane of my life before. I no longer smoke and I gave up vaping about three months ago. I obviously don’t drink. FUCK ME! That makes me healthier than the vast majority of the population. Oh my God, that just made me laugh out loud! That’s just too funny – ME, of all people. Fine, I still, and probably always will, eat like a truck driver but even so I’m healthier these days than most. I go running every other day on average, today being an exception in that I’ve just been for a 6k run even though Hubby and I went for quite a long run yesterday.

Is this even me that I’m talking about?? If the way I eat wasn’t part of that last paragraph I wouldn’t recognise this woman at ALL.

So yes, this is definitely a recovery reward, heading into a new year and new decade not with a tonne of changes I should be making but already in pretty good shape!

No, life isn’t perfect and I’m still Anna with her yo-yo moods and emotional turbulence, but despite the odd bump in the road and hailstorm in my mind, I’d say I’m on balance living what I might just dare call my best life…. …..yet.

See! You can have ‘yets’ in recovery too, just BETTER ones!

When I was drinking, there were just a bunch of really scary yets: I haven’t lost my job because of my addiction – YET (couldn’t have been far off!). My husband hasn’t left because of my drinking – YET. I’ve not become homeless because I bought wine instead of paying the mortgage – YET. I’ve not suffered liver failure or developed cancer because of drinking – YET. Drinking hasn’t killed me – YET.

Now that I’m sober, I don’t have to worry about the same yets. Sure, I’ll die one day but if I stay sober it probably won’t be because of drinking – I say ‘probably’ because I drank for a long time and I’d be lucky if I escape without receiving an invoice later on. And of course all sorts of shittery could befall me, but all of that is made a lot more unlikely now that I’m sober. I.e. when I’m not actively behaving in a way that really does attract all those drinking yets. The yets I have in recovery go something like this: I haven’t run a marathon – YET (although I’m not sure I want to, but you get what I mean – stuff like that isn’t AT ALL out of reach anymore. I could quite literally sign up for one right now and know I could put in the work to do it. It’d be hard as fuck, but entirely possible BECAUSE WHY NOT!). I haven’t written that first book – YET. We haven’t done our US deep south roadtrip – YET. I haven’t woken up with a clear head and healthy body tomorrow – YET (but I am pretty damn sure I’ll wake up exactly that way – AGAIN!). Look at just that small selection of lovely, cutie-wutie, wonderful yets I have all around me now!

So here’s to 2019 – you were my first year entirely free from the evil clutches of alcohol (I made the decision to stop 23rd January 2018) and for that I love you that little bit extra much. Completely alcohol free, you were! You sexy little minx, 2019! Mwah! And here’s to 2020 and beyond! Long may my recovery continue – by far and bar none the best thing to ever happen to me.

Today I’m not going to drink.

The Little Space

What I am learning as I go along is that my mood can go from euphoria to the deepest sense of doom and back again very rapidly. This is what I’m like undiluted by Sauvignon Blanc. Just reading a few consecutive blog posts illustrates this clearly – from angry and irritable, I’m on cloud nine just a day or two later. I guess I have to make my peace with these being the cards I was dealt and accept that I am precisely what my mother says I am (and she repeated it once again when she was over to visit just a week ago): “an artist’s soul”. By this she doesn’t mean that I’m a creative genius, but rather, that everything I feel, I feel strongly. Ups, downs, mountain high, valley low and every damn thing in between.

That’s OK. As exhausting as it can be, I figure I’m better off accepting this about myself, as opposed to getting so agitated and confused when every day isn’t rainbows and unicorns. That’s what does seem to be the case, you see. When I get these little blips in my mood and my emotions run haywire, I get all panicked because I think I occasionally lose sight of how life isn’t always a fairytale. This is a remnant of my time spent in active addiction – an unpleasant feeling? Pour wine on it! A tinge of joy? Douse it in ethanol and squeeze it for all it’s worth! Feeling flat? Plunge head long into a sea of glittering white wine spritzer and splash around!

Recovery is doing none of that. Recovery is sitting with whatever it is that I’m feeling and accepting my emotions for what they are. In my case, this can be a very frustrating process because they are so many and so diverse. My emotions are all the world’s cultures, languages, traditions, wars, victories, joys, sorrows and natural disasters crammed into the little space that is my mind – sometimes all at once. My brain’s control panel is forever busy changing its settings to process them all as no two seem to conform to any similarity. I mean, sometimes it takes me a day or two to adjust to speaking Swedish when we go there and then back to English when we get back home, so God knows how tired my brain must get working to decipher all these colourful emotions passing through it.

It’s exhausting, for sure. But hey. This is how it is. I need to be a bit more mindful of it, I think. I mean, it’s as if I forget when I get caught in a dip that this is par for the course of being Anna. Then when I hit the upswing again, I shake it off and push it aside as if it never happened, yet when I’m right in it I feel super hopeless and fed up. Perhaps I need to start meditating? What can I do to become more mindful and aware? The next time I hit a bump in the road, how I can I convincingly show myself that this is just a little Anna-bump? Instead of genuinely believing I’m about to land in the deepest depression and feeling like the world is ending?

Oh well. Just some thoughts that hit me as I read through the last few up-and-down-and-back-up-again blog posts I’ve written. Today? Feeling good and solidly content. Not over the moon, fireworks happy or string quartet, doom-and-gloom sad or angry. Just content. One of those gentle rollers, as one of my favourite bloggers referred to the more balanced life we tend to experience in recovery.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Humming Along to Rod Stewart

One year and 11 months today and unlike my last super grumpy blog post, here’s what my day looked like at 699 days sober:

Met up with a friend from the counselling course, who from here on out will be known as Wifey mainly because she’s fucking glorious. Then on to the pub where both our husbands joined us. It’s fucking amazing how I can enjoy that sort of set up just as much – correction: MORE – without drinking myself. Not even tempted.

Then I drove home and we got some food shopping done. An evening after having spent a couple of hours in a pub, I went for a run. I’ve had the loveliest day and now relaxing with my beautiful Hubby, who’s at the opposite end of the sofa and humming along to Rod Stewart playing on the loudspeaker as I’m tapping away on my phone writing this little blog post.

Life is fucking awesome. Please God, help me remain this way and never let me lose sight of all these wonderful things I get to have and do now that I’m sober. Please help me always keep sight of where I once was and where I would have ended up. Please God, always help me stay this way and feel this immense gratitude I’m so overwhelmed with right now.

Today I’m not going to drink.

So What’s My Problem?

See, I’d like to write a post about how magical this festive season and the run-up to Christmas is around here right now, but that wouldn’t be honest. I want to be the inspirational, zen and super positive blogger and project love, light and Christmas cheer.

Fuck that.

I’m in a shitty, shitty mood and I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this without biting people’s heads off. My mother was here earlier in the week and one evening I thought I was actually going to burst into tears. Why? Because of well meaning comments about how to raise my child. Gentle, thoughtful suggestions that threatened to turn me into a fire breathing dragon. Bambino’s with his dad until Boxing Day and whilst this in itself is a positive thing (unsurprisingly, I want my child to have an awesome relationship with his father), it leaves me feeling uneasy and anxious as my ex has an unpredictable temper and I know the tension Bambino feels having to be flawlessly perfect for the entirety of his stay as well as the psychological nightmare he’ll face if he fails to. I’ve had text messages from Bambino before asking me to come get him. Yesterday, I rang him in the morning just to hear his voice and make sure he’s OK. The Bonus Sons are here until later on today for a little pre-Christmas and whilst I love them to the moon and back, I’m often struck by how selfish and insensitive one in particular can be and although he means to be funny, the 10th time he commented about what an idiot Bambino is (who isn’t even here), my patience was beginning to wear thin. Bambino had selected sarcastic anti-Christmassy cards for his stepbrothers and written childish, borderline offensive messages inside. He’s a 15-yearold kid and this is the banter that always flies back and forth between them. I felt like saying “well, at least he got you a card, where the hell is HIS?” but bit my tongue and smiled feebly at the 8th or 9th comment of “he’s such an idiot“. I don’t find it funny.

Why am I so angry at all these people I love? Yes, angry. Full on, intense anger and resentment. I want to slap most of them, tell them all to fuck off and run away and spend Christmas alone in a remote cabin with just the sound of the wind outside for conversation. That’d do me fine just about now.

The beauty of all this is, I suppose, that none of it makes me want to drink and I know I need to look at this as a victory, but it is damn difficult to regulate these feelings and of course Uncle Alcohol would immediately take the edge off. Right? Not even tempted, not even a little. I think I’ve got very good at playing the tape forward and whilst last nights comments and displays of what I consider spoilt, inconsiderate behaviour may have been negated by the numbness of Sauvignon Blanc, I know I’d be sitting here now feeling like death. AND I’M NOT. I’m sitting here feeling angry and resentful, but I’m sitting here with all that anger and resentment feeling physically great and with a clear mind. Small victories. I may even go for a run later, even though I went for one yesterday.

Where is this all coming from? I honestly don’t know. I’d been looking forward to seeing mum for MONTHS, ever since she booked her tickets to come to London for a little festive visit seeing as we’re not heading to Sweden this year to celebrate. And if I had my way, my Bonus Sons would be always with us and obviously Bambino too. So I adore all these people, and yet they have all really got to me and I’m a spiky ball of aggression. The best way I can describe how I feel is FUCK OFF.

My emotions are alerting me to something and I can’t figure out what. They’re telling me I’m not getting something I need but I don’t know what it is. All I have is this sticky, unpleasant pool of resentment that I’m crawling around in, and the more I try to move, the more I sink into it.

Fuck this! I need to figure this out. One of my Bonus Sons just got up and immediately I’m struck by how much I love him and how grateful I am that I have these two young men in my life. He just walked in and I felt my whole being soften, just like I’m so utterly fortunate to have the mother I was blessed with, who these days is my best friend. If I weren’t bound to all of them through family ties, I’d choose them voluntarily. So what’s my problem? Well, I need to work it out because whilst there is no part of me that wants to escape into a bottle – I’d still rather eat dog shit than drink alcohol – this anger and feeling prickly is really getting to me.

Nope, no festive cheer from me today. Just an acknowledgement that I’m feeling this way and need to work it out.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Boo What a Shit Bag

Oh my God, do you think perhaps you could push them all into your gob at once?” I shrieked with thinly veiled disdain at Hubby, who kept munching New Zealand treats his parents had sent to us, “can you not just have a little bit and save some to enjoy tomorrow?” I added righteously.

Read that again.

Yes, that’s what I – the addict – asked another human being.

Jesus! I just heard what I said!” I exclaimed in disbelief and clamped both hands over my mouth as I realised I was being a massive twat.

Hubby’s eyes glittered in amusement as he happily chomped away on a mouthful of Pineapple Lumps.

Yeah, imagine,” he replied gleefully as he hurriedly chewed to respond unhindered by a huge mass of sweets in his mouth, “Anna, why not just have a glass and leave some wine to enjoy tomorrow! Why can’t you just stop!

Fuckinell, I can’t believe I said that,” I giggled, still with both hands covering my face.

No really – I didn’t just say it, I really, really MEANT it. I was actually annoyed at how greedy Hubby can be and how he’s like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to sweets and any other treats – he polishes off everything in sight. I, on the other hand, am quite happy to have a handful, then leave it all untouched on days on end and happily know it’ll last longer. Plus I don’t want a stomach ache. It’s literally the opposite to how I am with booze. Is this what drinking is like for you normies? Must be. So weird. But anyway, what a hypocrite, eh! It was just too funny how I can get all high and mighty about… …oh my God, I don’t even want to say it…. …MODERATION, of all things. What the hell is wrong with me?! Of all the things I could choose to preach, surely that’s the area where I’ve been well and truly disqualified, no? Jeez.

This slightly schizo trait in me is quite pronounced, actually. I get annoyed and have no understanding whatsoever for poor Hubby finding it hard to leave sweets alone, yet I’m a big fat addict and nearly killed myself because of that one thing I seemingly cannot do when it comes to drink: stop and leave some for another time. I’m so unreasonable! No, really, I am. As in, I’m a complete arsehole sometimes.

Take the counselling course. I get unbelievably anxious sometimes talking in front of other people, yet I get all impatient and prickly when other people get nervous about exams and essays (both things I freaking love as both are well within my comfort zone and the academic ground upon which I’ve always moved with relative ease). What’s that about? Obviously I don’t voice these bristly and idiotic thoughts with the group, but I genuinely sat there after the exam willing them all to shut up and get on with it. Many of them hadn’t managed to finish whereas I was done well ahead of time because I’d written so much there was no more space. There was not one thing I found stressful or difficult about it, and I found it hard to emphasise with how the others might. This is a shitty trait to have! And it’s the same thing – I have my own areas of weakness (anxiety in some situations and I’m an addict who couldn’t control my drinking) yet I have to really try hard to be patient with other people when it comes to their not-so-strong areas. Especially when their weak areas are my own strong ones. What a shitbag I can be! Boo.

Anyway. Thought it was funny. So did Hubby, despite being verbally attacked by Little Miss Loony Tunes here. Oh my goodness, it’s still making me cringe and I really don’t want to tell you about it – writing this really has me trapped between wanting to look good and honouring my vow to always be honest. Plus I wanted to amuse you and that won me over. It’s how I roll now – as much as I want to be liked, I won’t compromise on who I am anymore. If I look stupid, so be it.

Much work to do when it comes to myself and my behaviour. Much work indeed. It’s an interesting journey, no doubt about that.

When have you acted like an arsehole lately? I need to know I’m in good company.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Apples and Maseratis

Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s not a spectacular Monday or anything, but it’s a great one for the simple reason I’m sober. Just one thing I have to do. Or NOT do, as it were – all I have to do is not drink and what I get is this amazing life. No, there isn’t a butler serving my coffee this morning, nor have I got publishers on the phone begging me to sign contracts with them for a string of bestsellers and I didn’t wake up with a skinny body or smooth forehead either. And yet… I’m exactly where I want to be and I don’t need any of those things to be happy – I’m already there. Besides, I can’t think of anything worse than a butler or any of the other trappings of the uber-rich or what I imagine they have. As much as I sometimes critically survey my face and body in the mirror and on occasion think I should lose a few pounds, I know if I did it’d make no difference to how I feel inside. As for a publishing deal, sober I have all the tools to give writing a really good shot.

Commented to Hubby this morning how much I love our home. Honestly, hand me the Palace of Versailles and I’d stay put. Sure, sometimes we do come out with things like “imagine when we move out of London and get a little cottage with a garden” and fantasise about having more room(s), but looking around me I genuinely love this home so much. Well, it’s precisely that: home. Yep, I’m in full flow gratitude and it’s my favourite place to be because it’s when I allow myself to recognise how plentiful and lovely my life is that I feel unimaginably fortunate. It’s when I’m in this mindset I scrunch up my nose at the idea of a Maserati replacing my little Mini and don’t like it at ALL. Hm… I guess all I’ve listed is a bunch of material things – butlers, big houses and fancy cars – and it just goes to show those things are nothing whatsoever to do with how happy we are or could be.

With that said, financial worries are the worst and can bring unbelievable stress so obviously I appreciate that in some ways money and things can absolutely have an impact – it wouldn’t matter how centered and zen you might be if you go to bed worrying about how to pay the rent or figure out escalating debts. I’ve never been in an extreme situation or at risk of homelessness, but I know the worry and anxiety that comes with always stressing over how to make ends meet and ending up in a vicious circle of out of control credit card debt as an ill advised means to buffer the shortfall. What I also know now is how much worse all that got because I was in active addiction. I mean, the MADNESS of it! No, no – REAL madness. I’d figure out the food shopping choosing bananas over apples (cheaper) and buying budget brands, yet it somehow never seemed even an option to remove the two-three bottles of wine I bought each day. When I drank, I ended up also smoking more so would often get through sometimes up to two packets of cigarettes. It’s right there in front of our eyes, no? I’d save, what? A couple of sorry little £s on foregoing those apples, yet my drinking and smoking bill easily came to £30-40 every single day. Some drinks were had in the pub so I easily spent £1,000 per month on booze. Had that not been the case I would never have been in debt or a financially unviable situation in the first place. Hell, I would have been able to save for God’s sake! And yet I never connected the two – not because I’m stupid but because I was in active addiction and you have no bloody choice but to prioritise it. Even over food.

Well, this wasn’t at all what I thought I’d write about when I started this blog post, but I do like to remind myself of how insane it all was and how enormously grateful I am that I don’t have to be in that sorry and desperate state anymore one day at a time.

As of now, I’m going to make some more coffee. Do a bit of studying for the counselling course as there’s an exam and an essay coming up, and later on a friend from the course is coming over. Me and two others met up last week and my rotten sense of self worth is finally beginning to be stripped away. Yep, two women on the course who happen to be the ladies I like the most want to be my friends and it’s for the simple reason that they like me and I’m worthy of their friendship. My default is always to shrink away and immediately decide everyone hates me and if someone does speak to me it’s because they feel they have to out of pity. It’s stupid, isn’t it? Still, hard to shake off but I’m working on it. I’m just like everyone else and just like everyone else I’m some people’s cup of tea and others not. All in good time, I’ll get there.

Had the interview for the exciting role I really want last week and came away feeling really good about it, really felt I nailed it. I kept addiction and recovery to myself (yes, your advice was tremendously useful – thank you also for the private messages, very touching and meant a lot) and it didn’t come up anyway, and think it went really well. I’ll hear today but the initial feeling of it’s-in-the-bag isn’t there anymore. Had it been in the bag, I reckon they would have made encouraging noises much sooner. Hey Anna! You’re doing that thing again…… Back up, back up…. This you cannot control. Sit tight, let go and let God. We’ll see. If it isn’t this one, the right thing will soon come along.

I don’t know much, but I do know this – what makes this life so wonderful isn’t all those things we sometimes think we want (money, Maseratis, achievements) but rather comes down to one thing only for me: sobriety. It’s everything. It’s changed everything. I can’t fucking believe how much it’s changed everything. It makes me so happy I feel weepy. I stopped drinking because alcohol was ruining my life. I never realised the life recovery would give me, it honestly is beyond my wildest dreams. So whilst I stopped because I found myself in hell, I stay stopped because I now find myself in heaven. Who would’ve thought?

Big hugs to you all. Out through the windows I can see the sun breaking through the mist across the rooftops of west London and the huge park near our house. What can you see and what makes you joyful and grateful today?

Today I’m not going to drink.