His Lovely Heart

OK, fucktard brain – you win. I’m glad we don’t have these battles too often, but fuck me, you really piss me off when we do. I’m fuming actually, because just when I thought you were starting to get the hang of what might constitute a normal response to reality you go loco on me. What’s up with that? It’s approaching 2am and here I am having to baby-sit you when in fact we could use a little shut-eye.

Tried to read twice. Got sleepy during round #1, but oh no – within minutes of switching the light off you just had to turn into what I imagine an LSD trip to be. Nicely stressed because I could sense you had it in for me, I spent probably an hour so tense my jaw was aching. Reading round #2 and once again I turned the light off when my eyelids got heavy and the words on the page got blurry, but oh fucking no – same rollercoaster, only this time you seemed to be on crystal meth, you nut job.

Reality:

Yes, there is anxiety and general pissed-off-ness around the counselling course – there are more applicants than available places for the next level. Ball ache, yes. But I’ve so far not only passed everything, I’ve also been told several times by the tutor that I’m in a very strong position and generally seem to be getting it not just right, but very right. This afternoon that was once again confirmed. Whilst there are no guarantees, getting a place on level 3 will likely be down to luck of the draw and not a reflection of my ability. There is simply nothing I can do about it, and certainly not now, at 2am. Should my portfolio be a little meagre in places, I have time to do more work. All of us are in this position, but only today I was reassured of having done not just well, but really well. So why the stress? Is this really where it’s coming from? Can’t be, surely? Only last week I surprised myself by feeling pretty calm about it all whilst most other people seemed a hell of a lot more stressed than I did. Delayed reaction and I’ve gone and suppressed all negative emotion as per usual? Turns out I manage to do this even without booze. Huh-fucking-rrah.

Yes, there was a curveball this evening. Mum rang and told me my stepdad’s had a mild heart attack. It was a couple of days ago and mum being mum she only told me once he’s in the clear – he is recuperating as we speak and he is fine. Terrible, yes. But he had already been referred to be examined for the pain and pressure he gets in his chest so they were already keeping a close eye, and so when he got poorly they got him in quickly, they operated and now what turned out to be a blockage is fixed with a stent. Yes, I love the man to the moon and back and yes, it is painful as hell to hear someone I care about so much being poorly, but bottom line is it was caught and they have fixed it. His heart has not been damaged and because he got poorly they could sort it out immediately before it developed into something that could have gone worse. Is this what has me spinning? That’d make more sense. But it’s not like I’ve gone and denied it, nor have I – hallelujah! – gone and got drunk to numb it out. I sat with it, I felt it and I am not running away.

Fuck you, brain, I’ve fucking got this. So why are you doing a number on me?

Perhaps I’ve got into a vicious cycle. I’m really annoyed because one of the biggest rewards of recovery and the one that materialised the quickest – almost immediately, in fact – was wonderful, solid, restful sleep. Oh my goodness, I’ve slept SO well since I ditched the booze. But somewhere just into the new year, two years into sweet, sweet sobriety, I’m suddenly having trouble. It’s been rare, but this kind of night has occurred once in a blue moon, sure. But lately it’s been quite often, as in the past two or three weeks. I get sleepy, but as soon as I turn the light off I can’t seem to fall asleep. Because of a handful of these nights I think I began to think “oh shit, what if I can’t go to sleep again” and then of course I’m doomed. Because of YOU, stupid brain of mine. I mean, to you that’s like a red flag to a bull. Can’t help yourself, can you?

In the mad torrent of crazy town you’ve thrown my way, I was even pondering whether it’d even be possible for an addict to safely use sleeping pills for a short period of time to get me back on track. No, it’d have to get really bad before I were to even consider that, but I was playing the conversation I’d have with my GP in my mind as I was tossing and turning. All the questions I would ask and the amount of research I’d have to do.

1) Surely it’d be the most idiotic idea known to man for an addict to take sleeping pills?

2) Do normal people get addicted to them? I’m sure I’ve heard of this happening. So surely for someone like me, this would be about as sensible as swimming in shark infested waters wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress as a bathing suit?

3) Does the brain, and in particular a brain like mine, react like it does to e.g. alcohol and other drugs in that it’ll start to produce the opposite effect? I.e. if I were to take sleeping pills, would it become harder to sleep once I come off them because my arsehole brain is working in the opposite direction? You know, how you are tired before you’ve had your coffee not because you haven’t had your coffee but because you’ve been drinking coffee regularly? Yes, I know I’m rambling and probably not making much sense but it’s in the middle of the night and I’ve gone hyper. What I’m wondering on this point is whether sleeping pills put a spanner in the works even if you don’t get addicted? Although that’d be exactly like addiction, if the crap that’s caused the damn problem also becomes the only thing to alleviate it. Yep, I’ve gone hyper. I’m definitely on the dark side now.

4) No. Just no.

That’s not going to happen – I absolutely wouldn’t and I’m not seriously considering it, but my mind is still racing and I can’t freaking switch it off. And I’m getting a little worried about this blip in my hitherto magical sober sleep. What is this nonsense?

Possible reasons:

Anxiety over the counselling course progression plan? Yes and no. Either way, there is nothing I can do about any of it AT FUCKING 2AM! Grant me the fucking serenity, brain – I’m following the rules here and have mostly been very at peace with this. Even if it all goes totally wrong, the worst that can happen is I find a different college and because I’m covering my bases I have one lined up with an interview coming up. There is genuinely nothing to be catastrophising about here. At worst, it’ll be a little amendment to my route to get to my goal but it won’t stop me. If this is what you’re being loco about you need to stop, brain. This is stupid.

Stepdad’s lovely heart? I feel sad and powerless but not panic stricken or worried, because he’s in good hands and they’ve got it under control. I can’t do anything about this but the doctors who can HAVE. This is real and it isn’t stupid. It’s not just OK to be anxious and stressed about this, it’s totally natural. But do you think, brain, that you could just let me sit with this feeling and reflect on it and not go off in all these other, insane directions?

Is it all these smoothies we’ve been making? We did get tonnes of fruit, berries, spinach and other greens along with these health powders like spirulina and something called maca powder, which apparently is “Peruvian ginseng” and what soldiers would eat before going into battle. Perhaps a huge glass of apple, spinach and warlord fuel wasn’t such a good idea?

Is it the book I’m reading? ‘One of Your Own’. It’s a book about Myra Hindley. I’ve read it before but have recently churned through a bunch of serial killer books of that ilk, the one I finished before it about Rose West. I mean, it’s not exactly a pleasant read and it does contain harrowing details of abuse and murder. Lots of it. But I have always been fascinated by evil and my book shelves are full of stuff like that. Oh good, I’ve gone from not just being crazy but sounding like a complete psycho too. Excellent.

Maybe it’s all of that.

Fuck. I’m not getting tired. In fact, this is just making me more awake. I could literally go for a run right now. I don’t want to go back into the bedroom and read because Hubby is sound asleep and turning the light on AGAIN would probably wake him.

By the way, my language seems to get especially foul when I hit a night like this one. Too many f-bombs in here, definitely.

Well. Just gone past 2am now. I’m just going to head back to bed and try again. I’m so, so irritated. I did not need this, brain. You suck.

Today’s little happy thought in all my crazy: imagine how much worse this would be if I was still drinking! Pouring booze on anxiety would be worse than that Lady Gaga dress in aforementioned shark tank.

Well. I still win, because even though there are still technically 22 hours left of ‘today’ and I’m clearly bat shit crazy, I can say with conviction and a fair amount of sass too, that:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Never, Ever

A good friend – let’s call her Coachie, as she coaches for a living – invited me to this little group exercise via WhatsApp called “21 Days to Abundance”. It’s Deepak Chopra something or other and normally this is the sort of thing that makes me vomit a little in my mouth, but I’m trying to be more openminded these days. Another good friend – and we’ll call this one Danish as she is bound to come up again – actually suggested I come along to this buddhist thing she goes to where they chant and stuff, but that’s another story. Oh, I intend to go, by the way. Drunk Me would fucking die, but Sober Me is happy to embrace these things. But back to the abundance thing.

Each day there’s a little exercise followed by a short, guided meditation that Coachie sends to the group and today was the first day. Because Hubby and I were just sitting around drinking health smoothies – WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO ME??! – I suggested he join in, so we both did it. You list 50 people who have in some way had a positive impact on your life and then scan through the list reflecting on the goodness they’ve brought you. I didn’t list all my family and best friends or anyone else simply because I love them, I selected the people who have in various ways taught me really important lessons. I actually added Bully-Face because I do believe I took valuable, and very positive, lessons away from that period of my life. On my list were also several bloggers I follow and clients who were at the rehab I worked at (listed only by first initial because I consider myself to be a woman of integrity), e.g. a woman who will NEVER know just how much she inspired me and how often I’ve thought of her. She truly embodies “anything is possible” for me.

Anyway.

After I had read my list out loud to him with comments about each person, Hubby smiled at me, a knowing look on his face. Oh, and those beautiful, soulful eyes fixed on me. *swoon*

What strikes me is that half your list are people from these past two years you’ve been in recovery,” he said.

I guess what it shows, not that it needed spelling out, is how I only really started living just over two years ago. No, that’s exaggerating – I did live before and life was mostly pretty wonderful, I’ve been truly blessed in countless ways, but getting sober was like someone switched the light on again. I’m not going to dismiss everything that happened, everyone I knew and everything I did during the drinking years – not at all – but what I’m saying is my world is now full of colour and light that perhaps weren’t quite so present before. Well, I wasn’t so present before.

Sometimes… No, make that often. Often, I’ve worried that Hubby might miss the wilder, crazier version of me. The version of me who was over the top, uncontrolled and, it has to be said, at times totally hilarious and so much fun. I’ve sometimes… Sorry, I’ve often worried I’ve got too boring. Not for me, because I love my life the way it is now, but for him. And then I read the card he got me for my two years sober, with “Congratulations, you legend!” on the front. In it, along with his unwavering words of support, admiration at what he calls my achievement (I beg to differ as it implies sobriety is difficult and mostly it’s been the opposite) and love for me, he had also written:

I’m so grateful for you, and I’m grateful for your sobriety.

And there was my answer. He’s also got me a little trinket, this chain with a bunch of pendants on it.

IMG_1761

It’s funny, isn’t it? I mean, now that I think of it… Actually, I’m going to ask him RIGHT NOW. He’s ironing his shirts whilst I’m sitting here writing. Why not just clear this up once and for all?

Have you ever wished, in the time I’ve been sober, that I wasn’t? Or that I could drink with you still?

Uhm, at times we had a lot of fun, but that’s not the same question as would I prefer you to still be drinking. No, I wouldn’t.

Do you ever miss it?“, I ask, heart in my throat.

Do I miss us heading down to the river on a summer evening having a Rekorderlig and a chat, absolutely, but we still do that and you have sparkling water. But it’s a different thing to say do I wish you were still drinking because absolutely not. I never, ever want you to drink again because of what it does to you and you’re all the better for not drinking.

He says the last bit about “never, ever” with emphasis and has his stern work-face on, the same one he has when he’s on work calls.

So me not drinking, has that has ANY negative impact?

He chuckles and makes a funny face at me.

Wild sex?

I knew it, he’s a fire escape pervert! Dirty boy. Jokes aside, however, sex is definitely different these days. Firstly, I am keenly aware of my actions and do care who might see or hear. Secondly, I remember it, which is nice. Thirdly, I’m not numbed by booze and for that reason it’s SO much better. The subject was bound to come up sooner or later and there it is. Shit-faced I turn into an absolute deviant. I mean, when you’re out of it, it HAS to be wilder, more extreme, kinkier and everything else for you to even feel it. Sorry, not sorry – that’s the truth of it.

Wow, didn’t expect it to end up on that subject but there we are. Full disclosure, no filter. Now, there’s something that hasn’t changed! I think God had run out of filters the day I came along.

Well. It’s important I think, especially when I find myself being really anti-EVERYTHING to do with my life before I stopped drinking. It wasn’t all negative. There were lots and lots of good bits. Fact remains though, that those good bits were just a tiny few drops in a huge, stormy ocean in which I was drowning. Those good bits are the same as saying “well, at least the weather’s nice” when you’re lying on your death bed. I mean, it’s so irrelevant because you’d rather have rain every day and get to live on. And I would never want to go back there. Because, truth is, all the good bits I still have. And the really wild bits? Well, no. Truthfully, no. Why miss things that were the very things that made me cringe the following day? The things I always felt embarrassed about? No thanks.

It’s all good. Really. Uhm, now it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself as well as you guys. I’m not. I’m just trying to tell you my truth. I’m not going to say that life sober means I have no problems or never feel sad. But equally, I’m not going to say I find it anything other than the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If someone were to offer me a pill and tell me that once I’d taken it, I’d no longer be an addict and instead I could suddenly drink like a “normal” person – I wouldn’t take it. Honestly, hand on my heart, on my son’s life, I’d refuse and laugh out loud. Because as much fun as I’ve had drinking, none of it comes even close to the fun I have now and the life I get to have sober. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Long may it last.

And if I am wild enough to consider abundance exercises and chanting, perhaps I can have sober sex in the fire escape too? I mean, why not?

Today I’m not going to drink.

Let’s See What You’ve Learnt

Well, how annoying! I had to smile, because I think it was the universe yesterday giving me a gentle nudge and teasing me that life is never going to be perfect.

I should perhaps start by pointing out I sat in bed and cried tears of joy when I woke up. Two years on, the gift of feeling healthy, clear headed and free of shame is still as wondrous as it was early on. I can’t believe this is me. I can’t believe how the promises all came true and are continuing to come true.

Anyhoo.

I don’t know about you, fellow bloggers, but my soberversary felt like the kind of time when I wanted to write a Super Great Blog Post. Something to shout about the magic of a sober life, or perhaps top ten tips for getting sober – you know what I mean, right? The sort of post I may have looked at two-ish years ago in order to sustain the tiny bit of hope I’d found that sobriety might just be possible.

That brings me on to a sobriety perk straight away: morning coffee. Oh, I know, I’ve bleated on about it LOTS but I don’t care, it’s my favourite thing. When I drank I couldn’t drink coffee in the mornings because it worsened the hell I already found myself in, but when I got sober….. OH MY GAAAAAAAWD. It’s the best. And I’m fussy too – I have a “grind and brew” coffee maker. Freshly ground beans for Princess Anna and only put some something that hasn’t been properly brewed in front of me if you have a sincere death wish. I’m happy to make do with instant coffee or kinds made to a lower standard than via my own coffee maker during any other time of the day or at someone else’s place – no problem – but at home and in the morning this is What. I. Do.

So I was going to put the coffee on, then go start the Best Blog Post Ever whilst it was brewing and then fetch my first mug of the magical stuff.

The damn thing broke!

Jeez, how this riled me. What to do! I considered driving across London in the morning rush hour to find the exact same coffee maker. Anyway, it was a shitter – ridiculous, I know, but that’s just me. I like things My Way and don’t like deviation from My Plan. I was really, really irritated and riled by this. And of course because I’m so hung up on morning coffee and had had my morning ahead planned out in my head, the instant coffee I had to resort to tasted awful.

Miffed, but still determined, I then sat down to write the HAS-TO-BE-EPIC blog post.

…..and I realised that if I’d begun, I wouldn’t have been able to stop. There is so much to say – how could I possibly come up with something good? So I decided to do a video clip instead. To avoid rambling, I had a little list of bullet points. But of course one thing lead to another so even with speaking fast and trying not to go off on mad tangents, I waffled on for a good 20 minutes. And the thing just won’t load.

I smiled as I glanced out of the windows across the tree tops.

Well played, Universe. Well played. “Right, Soberella, feeling all victorious, are we? How about I break the damn coffee maker? Now let’s see what you’ve learnt, my little recovery student!” I swear this was what it was telling me.

There is no such thing as a perfect morning or a perfect anything. Having said that, it was a perfect day. You know, life is pretty low key a lot of the time, there aren’t often big, spectacular things going on, but what more could I possibly ask for when I have the life I’m so grateful for that I sit on my bed and cry tears of joy?

So if you, who is reading this, are reading this and you’re a little nervous of what is ahead – baby, it’ll get so, so good. You’ve got this and I’m so excited for you to discover what I have discovered too.

Right. Two years and one day now.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Seven Little Words

Two days short of two years sober, I can definitely say this: these days, I am a pretty calm creature. People have actually said this – Hubby, for example, said it quite early on when I got sober and others have too. It’s always made me chuckle because it used to be so far removed from how I perceive myself and who I consider myself to be. But from chaos came a sense of inner peace and today I really felt it. In fact, I almost felt like I should have been LESS calm. It’s a good place to be.

A very rubbish situation around the counselling course had many feeling upset. All of us are pissed off, with some people angrier perhaps and one person in particular ended up in a shitty position that had me feeling really sick. It was outrageous, actually. So there is absolutely no denying that negative feelings are valid. More than valid. But whilst I am seriously unimpressed with aforementioned Rubbish Situation, I’m feeling quite calm about it. Sure, part of that may be that I’m not very good at facing negative emotion and therefore perhaps wearing my rose tinted glasses as I view the world as usual. Another part is perhaps a smidge of arrogance, thinking I’ve got this in the bag – I hate saying it, but I’m feeling pretty confident. The third part may just be… …that I’m not so easily rattled these days and know in my heart that even if I get knocked back, I’ll just get back up and find another way. Sure, that’d dent my confidence and I know I’d be devastated, but even so – it doesn’t worry me all that much.

It could be that readjusting my course of action is easier than it might be for others in terms of commitments and other arrangements. That might also be a part of it. But I absolutely am hugely invested and would feel massively disappointed… ..no, make that GUTTED, should this not work out the way I have my heart set on.

Still. I feel quite at peace with it.

And that’s just it. I think I might just have cracked this lil’ beauty of a slogan that so often gets thrown about in recovery circles: LIVE LIFE ON LIFE’S TERMS. I’m living it exactly that way! And woman, that feels good!

I fully acknowledge stumbling will really hurt if I do. I fully accept that and it doesn’t stop me. I keep going. And I will continue to do so. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. I know full well it’ll be an utter, total and heartbreaking (yes – HEARTBREAKING!) pile of fuckery of the highest order if it doesn’t go my way. But that’s OK. I can handle it and I’ll find a way.

Damn, that’s a lovely way to face life. I can handle SHIT! Real, horrible, stinking shit.

I can handle shit because of one little promise I make to myself every single day, one day at a time. Hell, in the beginning it was by one fucking hour at a time! Now, however, it’s not a difficult vow to make. It’s something that’s easy, natural, magical and freeing. It makes my heart sing. Every. Single. Time. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and my life is staggeringly wonderful because of it. A little promise consisting of seven little words. (I know you’re going to count them, by the way, and I will judge you if you think it’s six words. If you do, we can’t be friends. I’m at least half serious. Sorry, not sorry). Seven little words that have changed my life, that I tell myself every day because I am worth it.

These seven words are as simple as a pine cone, yet as hopeful as a lottery ticket:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Help Each Other Out

A gentle nudge for myself this afternoon: is this something I need to care about? Answer: hell, no.

I’m a stickler for rules. I mean, I love them. And I follow them. To the letter. And that’s OK. It’s who I am and it works for me. What doesn’t work is when I start to over-care about how other people go about things. On the counselling course, we have a WhatsApp group chat that boils over when we’re getting close to an assignment deadline. It’s super helpful and we check off with each other what to do with this, that and the other thing, plus help each other out. Awesomeness.

Now we’re handing in our case study essays. The case study consists of a recorded “helping session” where we play the roles of helper and helpee. We are not qualified counsellors so we don’t call it counsellor and client, but essentially that’s what the roles are about. So for my case study, I’m the helper (or would-be-counsellor) and a course mate was acting my helpee. Ahead of the session itself we created a contract listing things like time, location, duration, my limits of competency, confidentiality, general guidelines and so on. Along with this we also had to give the helpee a letter summarising some of these points, again ahead of the session. The essay itself contains transcripts of the recorded session and various things we have to demonstrate and define/discuss, along with the usual bibliography and also include the full recording on a USB.

All very clear.

My little group went first, and whilst we were doing our sessions, the rest of the group created a contract and letter as a joint effort, whilst my group had all done our own ahead of the session. The others are using this joint template to include with their case studies. I did see these circulated and just figured at the time it was sent to everyone as a helpful pointer or example to use as a starting point but then adjust accordingly. And today someone mentioned “are we allowed to do this?” in the WhatsApp group.

And here’s me wanting to say this: “uhm, what are you doing, you fools? You need to submit your own work!“. I don’t want to say this, and I haven’t. So what if they do it that way? It’s not my problem. But here’s my dilemma – I wouldn’t feel comfortable myself doing that, because it’s not a group assignment and I would worry the assessor might fail me if it isn’t my own, individual work I’m submitting. Someone else chimed in saying “we’ll just point out we agreed as a group to do it together“. Again, I wanted to say “noooo, don’t! You fools! Why would you do that? That’s risky!” but stopped myself. I’m dithering between shutting my mouth as I don’t want to be some fucking killjoy or goodie-two-shoes telling grown women what to do and speaking up as I don’t want anyone to get penalised for not using their own work, or worse, fail as a consequence.

Eek.

I also don’t want to throw a spanner in the works for those who are still working on it right now by making people feel they have to create a new contract and letter on top of everything else. I don’t want to create drama, stress or panic. But I will fucking kill myself if it goes tits-up and it transpires they can’t do it that way, knowing I did think they’d got it wrong and kept quiet. That feels like sabotage.

So on the one hand, I’m thinking SHUT UP ANNA AND MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS and on the other I’m thinking SAY SOMETHING TACTFULLY, like “perhaps double check with the tutor that this would be OK?“.

This afternoon’s nudge to myself is to stop caring about whether other people do things the way I believe things should be done. I’m happy with how I’ve done my work and feel good about it. End of story. But the fact remains that I feel I should say something veeeeery gently to the others because I want them all to do well.

Shit. Perhaps I just put it to Wifey. She’s good at telling me when I’ve got a point and also, more importantly, when I’m creating non-issues and should pipe down. Also, it’s given me something to reflect on, this tendency to want to involve myself in what other people do. It’s nothing to do with me. Nothing whatsoever. Absolutely pointless irritation. Is it a control thing? That I feel a need to go in and tell people what to do? Hmm….. Grant me the serenity to mind my own damn business. Yep, that sounds about right.

One thing remains as true as it was this morning when I wrote my last blog post:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Actual Effort and Deadlines

Bambino has turned into a motivated, enthusiastic and career focused force of nature – he now has two potential jobs lined up that are better than his paper round: one at a pub to clean up in the kitchen and wash up dishes on Sundays, the other as yet unknown via a text that arrived this morning saying “please call me, I’m an employer and I got your letter” so he’s getting bites, and quickly too. Not only that, he has also set his sights on a training course to qualify as a youth football referee. A local football club has already confirmed they’re always looking for youth referees and pay £16/hour. This is almost twice the hourly rate of working at a rehab as a support worker, which is what I did last year. Not that the money is the ultimate motivation and certainly in my case it never has been, but flippin’eck, that doesn’t hurt, does it?

Me, I can’t seem to get on it with quite the same level of gusto.

Well, with the counselling studies I have. Sort of.

I’ve been very unlike me and the case study essay that’s due tomorrow I finished off Friday. Whilst this may still seem like leaving things to the last minute for people more organised and sensible than I am, this is bloody unheard of on Planet Anna. ACTUAL EFFORT and STARTING MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES BEFORE DEADLINE. Holy cannoli, I have never done that before in my entire life. Ever. And it feels really good, as well as very strange. This is the day before deadline and I don’t need to do a thing, I can just chill out and perhaps read it through. I actually also feel I’ve produced really good work.

As for paid work, I definitely need to get my sizeable behind in gear.

I scan the available jobs every day and scrunch up my nose. I check all the rehabs as addiction is what I want to focus on, but there’s nothing yet. Fuck that, I can’t sit on my arse like this – I need to hit them Bambino style. Yesterday he went down the High Street again handing out his CV-letter and this morning aforementioned text landed. I need to do the same. So I’m going to. Once again hit the rehabs with a letter and my CV, setting out what I do know and what I want to learn and do, please take me on and I’ll make sure you don’t regret it. Clearly sitting here waiting for ads to appear is getting me nowhere fast, whereas Bambino is really hitting the runway and taking off. Yep, gonna emulate my teenager, clearly he knows what he’s doing.

Hubby has just headed off to the airport, Prague this week. He’s in the middle of an excessively stressful period and will barely land between work trips and non-stop work over the next month or so. His job has always meant pressure, as a job inevitably will when you’re in a very senior position at a global company, but I don’t think I’ve ever known him to feel anxious before. Friday night, anxiety and insomnia hit me. What I didn’t realise until I gave up on trying and started to read in a renewed attempt to get to sleep, was how Hubby was also lying awake. There we were, lying next to each other, my leg thrown over his, reading books and both unable to sleep. We went for a long walk Saturday and talked through stuff. I couldn’t do his job, don’t know many of us could and I guess that’s why not many do. As lovely as I’m sure it is to be the boss and command a nice salary, he has to deal with a shit storm of stress and frustration.

Hubby isn’t one to wobble, he’s the kind of person, who, if he were to discover the world was on fire, would calmly survey the situation and figure out a sensible and rational way to solve it. Me, I’d be panicking and going mental, making the mess worse. Hubby stands firm and doesn’t get rattled. Even when he’s rattled, he doesn’t appear particularly rattled. The most violent reaction I can provoke in him is a roll of the eyes or a furrowed brow. As my mother put it during her speech at our wedding dinner: “even when a storm hits, you stand steady“. It’s one of countless good qualities Hubby possesses and that I freaking adore. He stands on extremely good legs, by the way. Gosh, those pins were carved by angels and very talented ones at that.

Well, didn’t this turn into quite the Ode to Hubby and Bambino? Well. They are the inspiration I need right now. One focused and driven, the other calm and methodical (with excessively good legs to boot). So that’s how I’m going to take this week on: calm and focused.

What are your challenges and goals for this week?

Today I’m not going to drink.

Lashed By Rain

It’s a super yucky Friday morning – it’s still dark and outside it’s cold and pissing it down with rain. I’ve lit candles and am all cosy and warm here on the couch as I glance over at the windows that are being lashed by rain. Glad I don’t have to head out in this at this early hour. Someone else had to though, at 6am.

I’m a very proud mum right now, because as we speak, Bambino is cycling around the neighbourhood with a heavy bag of newspapers on his back to deliver to a bunch of addresses. It was his own idea. I’m not even going to pretend my kid is some wholesome, keen, God fearing little dude – he likes cash, is all. He came to me last week and said he wants to get a job so he can earn extra money and get some experience, and he asked how you get one. So I explained what he needed to do and with a bit of direction from me in terms of layout and what to include, he sat by my laptop and typed up a letter. At 15, a CV really just contains his date of birth and address, what school he goes to, what subjects he’s chosen for his GCSEs and his hobbies, but he did a good job of it, pointing out which subjects he enjoys most and why he wants to work.

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Bambino isn’t one to get nervous like his mama – he’s always been confident to the point where it sometimes resembles arrogance, but as he went off to hand his printed off letters to local businesses he gave me a big grin and told me “I’m actually really nervous! Do you just go in and give it to them?“. “Just ask for the manager or the next best thing if they’re not there, introduce yourself and tell them you’re looking for work and can you give them your details, that’s all,” I told him and off he went. When he got back, having handed out 20-odd letters, his eyes glittered. “That felt so good, I don’t know why!” I think the feeling he experienced was empowerment – it simply feels really good to do something you find scary, find you can actually do it and it gets you somewhere good.

Today was his first day at 6am on aforementioned cold, dark and rainy morning.

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So I’ve been sitting here feeling really proud of him, partly because getting out of bed is for my teenager a bit of a struggle and at weekends he rarely emerges before lunchtime. He was his usual, sulky teenager self when he left, but as he walked back in just now (legs soaked and fingers red from the cold, but at least he had a rain coat and cap), he flashed me his beautiful, cheeky smile and I could tell he feels good about it. I hope he gets that great feeling when he gets his first little pay cheque of “I DID THAT“. I hope he doesn’t get that defeated feeling of “did I do that for THIS??” looking at a paltry sum in exchange for the pain of seven mornings a week. Time will tell.

I do hope he’ll stick with it. I’ve said to him it’ll probably be more of a pain than he expects it to be and at times disheartening to earn so little for so much effort, but to keep an eye on the end goal: stick with it for however many months and treat it as the most important thing in your life, and then you have exactly what you need to move on to a better little job. Because what he’ll have if he goes about it that way is a reference. Not just a job to add to his little CV, but also a person to confirm he’s showed up, done the work and done it well. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? JUST SHOW UP. DO THE WORK. JUST FOR TODAY. Life, amigos. Life.

Today I need to take a leaf out of Bambino’s book and get on with something I’d rather just avoid and leave to the last minute, after having spent the last few days feeling anxious. Case study essay. I know I can get it all done within a matter of perhaps three or four hours, it’s shorter than the previous essay but fiddlier to do as it has a transcription, contract and some other bits with it – it’s one of those things that seem complicated and like a mountain of different things until you methodically just burn your way through them and realise it’s not that bad. Like the essay I left to the last minute. So I’m going to approach it with Bambino’s current (!) work ethic and just get on and do it.

And I’m six days away from two years sober. 724 days today – Jeez, that number makes me laugh with disbelief and a huge dose of joyful gratitude! How this is even me I’ll never know, it still seems so unlikely. But here we are and I’m the woman who’s 724 days sober but most of all FREE today.

It’s such a great feeling and I never want it to change. That’s why I’m so thrilled to say:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Any Second Now

I have no idea who she is, but she didn’t cancel the interview when she found out it was a group assessment that would involve a presentation. Not only that, she turned up and stayed. The weirdest thing of all, she forgot to get nervous, tremble and get palpitations when she was to present her part of the group exercise. I don’t know that I want the job if I were to be offered the role, but today was yet another little victory. Hurrah!

Another victory of today was opening the letter that arrived from CSN, the Swedish student loan thingy. These letters would go straight in the bin. I’d also not bother making payments, using the excuse that CSN are idiots who calculate huge payments but failing to take into account that those just weren’t possible for me during some of the single mum years. This is partly true, but had I not spent money on booze you can bet your bottom krona that I would have been able to. As a result, the debt grew and grew and eventually CSN were very cross and I had to face reality. Well. I’ve now spent two and a half years catching up with the amounts I’d fallen behind on, and in a week I’m making the last of those and will be all squared. Not debt free, but up to date and paying like a normal, good little Swede who went to uni. This isn’t really recovery related, but it’s still a sign of being on top of things, getting things right and not putting scary letters in the bin. These days I open them, and because I open them they have turned into letters that make me feel good because I’ve faced everything and done things right.

Third victory of today: Bambino has a job. On his own initiative and he spent an afternoon handing in his little CV-letter to a bunch of local businesses. It just a paper round for which he will be paid peanuts and will be a stinker to do at 6am in the rain and the cold, but the victory is that he wants to get experience and once he’s got one person to give him a reference he can move on to something a little better. He starts Friday. My little munchkin.

Fourth victory: Hubby is back home any second now from a work trip.

The fifth is – as always – the best of them all:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Roll with the Punches

Recovery doesn’t just mean not drinking – it has meant an entire shift in how I approach life. In essence, I guess the most prominent feature is how I no longer run or hide and instead face life head on and accept living my life on life’s terms, not my own. Glancing here (I don’t think it can be avoided, but then why should it?) at AA’s 12 steps, it once again illustrates how I believe these steps are what organically happens when you accept that you need to make a change. For me, it’s about living in a way that is very much centred on doing the next right thing, living according to a better standard.

There are little things that I approach differently, that is at direct odds with how I approached things before. Yesterday was run day. I didn’t feel like it and it would have been so much easier to just… …not. But I know in my heart that running is such a huge part of my self care. It has HUGE benefits and makes an enormous difference to how I feel inside and out. Not only does it mean my heart is happy along with my lungs, muscles, blood circulation and burning off energy, it also leaves me full of happy endorphins and a sense of accomplishment. If I’d not gone yesterday – it was SHIT, by the way, each step was heavy and I struggled to catch my breath – I would have ended up feeling I-should-have and then guilt too. Instead, I pulled myself together and as rubbish a run as it was, I ran the whole way and felt so virtuous afterwards. I chomped down a MacDonald’s large meal with zero guilt, which was Bambino’s dinner request when he got back from a weekend at his dad’s.

It’s all about doing things right, the way I see it. Balance, really.

Another little thing is washing my face before bed. I never used to. I’d pass out drunk in full black-out and just shower in the mornings (crouching, of course). Now it’s something I take pride in and something that makes me feel really good. It’s self care, being kind to myself and looking after myself. It’s treating myself like I really matter. Putting on quality face creams and serums to make my skin happy – sure, there’s a large dose of vanity in there, but mostly it’s about treasuring myself.

Whilst I on occasion have a MacDonald’s with Bambino, I mostly ensure I eat well. These days I ensure I put into action how I love me. It’s not just thoughts or statements, I do for myself what I would do for anyone I love. Like I take care to serve up dinners for my family that I know they’ll love with the best ingredients, I now also treat myself with the same care and affection. I’ve always made sure Bambino has his greens and fruit for the same reason, wanting for him to be as healthy and well as possible, and in recovery I treat myself and my body the same way.

Life in recovery is for me the present moment and doing the next right thing. Sometimes the next right thing feels like hard work, but I make myself do it because I know there’s great reward. Skipping a run may feel easier for a short moment, a short lived reward at avoiding working a little harder just then. But putting in that bit of extra work generates a solid and much bigger pay-off that has great impact on my well being.

Well. Time to carpe the lovely mid-January diem now. Off to see Wifey and later on make sure I’m prepared for tomorrow’s exam. Hubby is off to Sweden for a few days with work and Bambino is grounded due to a combination of messing around at school and behaving pretty poorly. Life on life’s terms.

And life is fucking beautiful. I wouldn’t change a thing, even when I have to roll with the punches. Hubby away – boo. Bambino misbehaving – boo. Exam – I nearly said ‘boo’ there too, but even though it’s a little stressful I actually love academic work and as geeky as it is, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got this.

There’s one thing amongst life’s punches that never fails to fill me with boundless joy, however:

Today I’m not going to drink.