Tootling Through Europe

This isn’t a new thing at all – I discovered this super early on in recovery – but sometimes it really strikes me how good it feels to be so productive. I mean, even when I’m not busy this is the case. Even when I’m having a comparatively lazy day sober, I find that it’s the sort of day that would have made me feel super accomplished back when I was still drinking. I was thinking about it yesterday and yesterday was a REALLY lazy day. It was bank holiday here in the UK and so we didn’t set any alarm and just got up when we woke up. By 11am I’d made breakfast for Hubby, been for a run in the park and we’d also done a trip to the recycling centre to dispose of Bambino’s old mattress. OK, that’s hardly a morning to advertise at a productivity conference, but for me – a recovering alcoholic – this is a huge contrast to how things used to be. By 11am back then, I’d still be fighting to form coherent thoughts and generally struggle to do anything at all. If I’d showered, that might have constituted an achievement. Sober, everything just feels so fucking GOOD. All the time! Even shitty days sober are better than my best days drunk, and I don’t mean by a little bit – I mean my shittiest days now are better than my wildest dreams back then. It seems ridiculous, but it’s true.

I have a busy few days ahead. An essay is due Friday and I’ve been untrue to form and have actually made a start. Not a flying start (I’m still me and unless a deadline is breathing down my neck with considerable ferocity, I find it hard to do anything at ALL), but I’ve looked at it, I’ve made a few notes on what to cover and I’ve made sure I know where I’m going with it. This is a huge improvement to my customary modus operandi, which has always meant I don’t even know what the damn thing is about until the day before. So by my own (admittedly low) standards, I’m super prepared this time. One step at a time. Stockholm wasn’t built in one day. Also need to submit another assignment, but that one I completed as soon as it was set – I mean, HELLOOOO WHAT’S HAPPENING?! – and that is something I have never done in my life. I did set myself a goal to complete the essay a week before deadline and obviously didn’t, but what I did do is still a massive improvement so I’m taking it as a win.

I don’t really have anything else to report. Lockdown is easing little by little. It does look as though we’ll have to live without heading to Sweden this summer, which makes my heart hurt so much, but it is what it is. I know quite a few people who are heading over despite the guidelines, but I just can’t do it. I just can’t rock up there when the locals are advised not to travel further than two hours away by car and if I lived there I’d be really pissed off if someone rocked up having travelled all the way from London for a holiday. It doesn’t seem right and no matter how much I try to twist the argument to form a “need” or solid reasons for making it “essential” I just can’t. It’s a WANT. And it will have to wait. I’m a stickler for rules and I just can’t break them even when I want to so much there have been several occasions over the last month when I’ve seriously considered getting in the car and tootling through Europe to get to my beloved Falla, the little red house by the foot of the mountain Tosseberg. Honestly, it makes my heart hurt so much. And this will be only the second time in my entire life that I’ve missed out on summer in Sweden, the first being between the first and second year of university – the summer of 1997 – when I was a student, couldn’t afford it and had to stay put in the UK and work instead. Well! There’ll be other summers. We’re in a pandemic and this is how it will probably have to be, unless by July both Sweden and the UK have lifted restrictions and we can go without flouting any rules or guidelines.

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Right. I seem to have cooled down enough after this morning’s run to hop in the shower. Yep, I HOP in the shower these days, on steady legs and free from shakes and dizziness. It’s such a miracle I feel evangelical every goddamn time, I swear. Another contrast from the drinking days right there. Gone are the days when I had to crouch and showering was a terrifying ordeal every time. Hoppety-hop-hop!

Today I’m not going to drink.

Wet Dreams and Fishbowls

The weirdest thing happened the other night – I had a drinking dream. It’s been a long time since I had one. This one was different and I can’t quite figure out what it’s trying to tell me.

Early on in recovery – say, the first six months or so – I had two or three drinking dreams that were all the same. I dreamt that I was already drinking, that is, when I “came into” the dream it was already too late: I was already on the sauce. These dreams triggered that horrible, old feeling of powerlessness and sorrow. I was done for, doomed and there was no way out. I was trapped. In these dreams I had no choice. When I woke up, the feeling of the dream was so strong that I carried it with me to the point where for the first few moments upon waking it seemed real. I could physically feel the hangover. Then, I’d realise it was just a dream and I was still sober and the world was still as it should be, and it filled me with a renewed sense of gratitude. Thank GOD I don’t have to do that anymore!

A little further ahead, I had another drinking dream. At a guess, this was perhaps about a year in but I can’t actually remember. All I know it was, until a couple of days ago, my most recent one. In this one, I was in the supermarket and in the alcohol aisle. I was looking at wine bottles and was holding one in my hand, reading the label, choosing which wine to get. And then suddenly in the dream itself, I realised “oh shit, that’s right! I don’t have to do this anymore!” and put the bottle back on the shelf. Waking up from that dream felt good. It felt like a little sign that I was on more solid ground, although I have never and still don’t want to ever lose sight of the devastation that would be put into motion if I were to fall back.

For a long time now, I’ve not had any of these “wet dreams”, as I like to think of them.

Until a couple of days ago.

This one was super weird. Hubby and I were in New Zealand and in a beach bach. ‘Bach’ is pronounced ‘batch’ and is what they call their beach houses. Anyway, in the dream it was early in the day and I became aware that there was a shot glass containing clear liquid. It was alcohol and the glass was mine – that was the sense I got anyway. I’d poured it, I’d made that decision and I was super aware and embarrassed that people might notice that I shouldn’t start drinking so early in the day. A flashback, I suppose, to my drinking days – the constant fight to plan, facilitate and conceal my drinking. It was super shitty of course but mostly just really weird. First off, I never drank vodka or shots or anything like that, it was always wine. Second, as opposed to those earliest wet dreams, there was no sense of whether I’d already started or if I still had a choice. Those first dreams were horrible for that very reason, you see – my choice was already taken away from me, I’d already been drinking so all was lost. In this one I couldn’t tell.

I didn’t wake up feeling dreadful, just curious really as to what it was trying to tell me. I mean, sure, it gave me a snapshot of how awful it was to drink, no doubt about that, but it didn’t result in any thank-God-it’s-not-real moment of any great proportions. Yep, I still feel enormously grateful, every bit as much as I did a year ago, two years ago and even two weeks after getting sober. This dream, however, just left me a little baffled. No, it’s not playing hugely on my mind or anything like that and it doesn’t make me doubt anything. In many ways it does just do what the previous ones did – it just underlines how shitty my drinking life was – but it also seemed so odd. It never came to anything, it was just us pottering about in the bach waiting for the day to really start and the presence of that shot glass that was definitely mine but that I wasn’t sure what to do with. It was sort of mine and I was going to drink it. Or was I? It wasn’t clear. It was just there.

Oh, it’s not important, it just made me wonder and it stands out because it’s the first time in a long time that I dream about booze.

Beyond this, I’m in a shitty mood today – not brought on by the above dream, by the way – which is rubbish as I have the counselling course and don’t at all feel like I’m in the right frame of mind. We have fishbowls all day today, which means we’re doing observed skills practice and with fellow students acting the client or counsellor. It isn’t something I find easy to do on the best of days mostly because I can’t freaking bear being the centre of attention no matter how low key, but today I really don’t feel ready for it. Over video conference as we’re obviously in the midst of this pandemic still, but whilst that does make the centre of attention thing a little more bearable, it makes it harder in lots of other ways.

Ah well. Face the fear and do it anyway. Do the next right thing. This too shall pass. One day at a time and if today’s a crappy one, tomorrow is still a mystery and I know that no matter what the universe throws my way I can handle it. What’s one little shitty day? It’s just one day. And I’ll face it head on. I won’t run away and I won’t hide either. Bring it!

Today I’m not going to drink.

Liebster Loveliness Something or Other

Well, wasn’t this perfectly timed just as I was sitting here wondering where all my words have gone! Over the past three weeks I’ve been on fire with the writing, churning out closer to 70,000 words and more than doubling what I’d initially hoped to produce. So far, so good. It’s turning into a tale of two halves – the first a tour of the Drinking Years and the second venturing over to the bright side. And once again, I realise how much easier I find it to write the sad, horrible stuff. At first I was going to just push on and keep going even if I’d just end up with unusable rubbish, but then did a u-turn and crocheted a baby blanket instead whilst going back to the drawing board momentarily to mull over how to account for the getting sober bit.

I went in here yesterday, thinking that a bit of blogging will get me on track again but the WordPress template screen remained as blank as the Scrivener one.

So I’ll attack this instead… Something called the Liebster Award, that the lovely Claire nominated me for. ‘Liebster’ apparently means ‘lovely’ in German.

Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Share 11 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions.
  • Notify your nominees when you have uploaded your post.

My answers to Claire’s questions …

1. If you could have had any job/career what would it have been? 

The one I’m working towards – addiction counsellor by day and writer by night. A combo of the two.

2. If you were stranded on a desert island what three items would you choose to have with you?

I’m assuming “items” can’t be people and so I’ll have Hubby, Bambino and Bonus Sons with me, so beyond this it’d have to be my laptop, an infinite stack of books and my running gear.

3. What the thing you like most about yourself?

I seem to be wired to mostly be very happy, positive and grateful. Because I feel everything so strongly, it’d be terrifying if I was more inclined to feel down.

4. If you could relive one day again, exactly as it was before, what day would it be and why?

Late one night in February 2017 when we were in New Zealand. Everyone had gone to bed but Hubby and I wandered down to Waihi Beach and sat on a little sand bank in the dark and just listened to the mighty roar of the Pacific as the waves rolled in, just about making out the swirling white crests as they broke.

5. If you could only see one more band/singer live, who would it be?

Me and Lopez actually had tickets to see Michael Jackson at the O2 in London but of course he then checked out. And it seems wrong to now praise an artist who, it would now seem, did some pretty terrible things. I’ll go with Tina Turner. Or maybe Dolly Parton. Both women I freaking LOVE.

6. What is your biggest achievement in your life so far?

Obviously Bambino, but also my recovery.

7. What’s your favourite way to relax (keep it clean please!)?

Currently doing a lot of crocheting – I come from a long line of creative folk and I love making things, be it from yarn or metal. Reading is also a sure fire way of stilling my mind.

8. You can have a superpower for a year. Which one would you choose?

Time travel. This lockdown has shown me how very little I need to be happy. I’d quite happily forsake all modern inventions, live in a remote cabin in the woods and spend time listening to bird song during long walks through the forest. I’d pop back to simpler times. I’m thinking Falla one hundred years ago. That’d do nicely. And then I could pop back here when the year was up to check my e-mails.

9. What’s your favourite time of day and why?

Mornings!! My absolute favourite time hands down. Waking up without a hangover is fucking amazing even now 835 days down the line. This never gets old. And my morning coffee is magical.

10. What are you most afraid of?

Being the centre of attention. Working on it. I hate it. The physical response – racing heart, feeling faint, trembling – is over powering. But yes, working on it and face the fear at every given opportunity. I won’t let this hold me back anymore, even if I die trying.

11. What are your ‘words to live by?’ Name the three most important for you.

  • Face the fear and do it anyway.
  • The Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
  • There but for the grace of God go I.

11 facts about me

  • I was born on a Friday the 13th.
  • My first literary effort won me a prize and it was called ‘All the Witches in Thunder Village’.
  • Everything I feel, I feel strongly.
  • Definitely an introvert and a lover of the small, simple things.
  • I live in a big city but am a countryside chick at heart.
  • My favourite place in the world is Falla.
  • My father’s nickname for me is Beelzebub.
  • I found Hubby on http://www.lovestruck.com – hands down the best £14.99 ever invested in the history of mankind.
  • Coming to London was meant to be a gap year before heading back to Sweden and going to university. It’s been 25 years and London is ‘home’.
  • I’m incredibly grateful and proud to say I’m a recovering addict – recovery has changed my life to be everything I ever dreamed of.

My nominees are:

  • bgddyjim at Fit Recovery – I found his blog when I was all new to recovery and although he has a tonne of followers he took his time to explain and give advice when I had lots of questions. Straight talking, honest and to the point without being patronising. I think of him as a good friend and trust him even when we may disagree. He tends to be right most of the time though…
  • functioningguzzler – my warrior queen. We found each other when we were both heading into the sometimes overwhelming world of recovery. From the start, it was her I went into battle with. I imagine us picking up our shields and swords, nod to each other and off we go.
  • The Sober Racoon Returns – I discovered this blog quite recently. LOVE!
  • Katie at How I Killed Betty – Katie quickly morphed from blogger to a real life friend. Sadly, she deserted me to go with her husband, ‘the Colonel’, to NYC for a few years, but I am patiently awaiting her return to London.
  • Allane at SPO_OKY – once this lockdown is over, I’ll be heading to Scotland. If this lady was a book, she’d be the kind I wouldn’t put down.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the time, but if you do, here are your 11 questions:

  1. What makes you cry of joy?
  2. Favourite book and why?
  3. Describe your perfect moment of the day – real or what it would be to be perfect.
  4. Your best quality?
  5. Is there anything you struggle with that you’re continuously working on overcoming?
  6. The best piece of advice you ever received?
  7. Describe what ‘hope’ means to you.
  8. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? For the record – I mean true bravery! Doing a sky dive isn’t brave if it doesn’t scare you. Bravery is doing something that scares the shit out of you! 
  9. What did Little You want to be when he/she grew up?
  10. Looking at a photo of Little You, what advice would you give him/her?
  11. ….and what advice would Little You give the you of here and now?

Right. I think that’s it.

Today I’m not going to drink.