That Last Stretch

I am so excited about 2022!

Sure, we’re still in this goddamn pandemic, which sucks horse balls, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk. It’d seem that it applies to how I experience the wider world too. Eek, just imagine how this whole shit show that is Covid might have felt if I’d still been drinking. Fuckinell. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? Or, actually, let’s. Just for a moment.

You know, this is where I would like to write some hell raising story about the mayhem Drunk Me may have caused, had I still been Drunk Me. Something amusing, even. The truth is though, that pandemic or not, had I not stopped I would have just died. No wild story, just died. Probably in my own urine and vomit. Actually, probably just urine. I didn’t often throw up, my body didn’t seem to have that safety feature of purging in the eventuality of excess. If not in urine, possibly in a fire, given I used to cook in black-out and have come to on many a morning with gas rings on the oven still going. If not in piss or fire, then knocking myself out in some horrendous manner may have been a contender. I mean, even during those short moments of being sober(ish) I had to crouch in the shower for two reasons: 1) too shaky and weak to stand, and 2) terrified I’d slip and bash my head open on the taps. But I don’t think it would have been even as tragic as that. At least a fire is mildly interesting. No, I would probably have gone after passing out, with this heart of mine that was so battered finally giving up. I’m amazed it held out like it did.

I’m sorry, Heart. I love you. We’re good now. You’re a champion. Thanks for having my back.

The pandemic though, I wonder how it might have affected that last sprint. Yes – that last sprint, although when you’re a drunky-drunk it’s more of a stumble, really. Think I’m being dramatic? Think again. I wasn’t far off. There’s part of me that wishes I were exaggerating saying all of this, because even though it’s behind me now, I still feel like I want to bat it away much like I did when when I was right in it and didn’t want to accept how bad I’d got. Anyhoo.

Meeting Hubby meant I slowed down. You know, he’s a witness n’all. So with this witness working from home, drinking would have got so complicated. Ah, there you are, Alkie Brain! I forget what it was like to be ruled by you. Long time, no see. Just the idea irritates me. Isn’t it amazing how deep this goes? I’m sitting here and I can so clearly feel my own annoyance – anger, really – at having someone around to see my drinking, having to sneak around and how bloody impossibly hard that would have been with Hubby home. My best friend, who I love more than anything, who annoys me the least out of all the people in the entire world. It’s so fucked up, addiction. But that’s what could have happened, I guess – the pandemic might actually have slowed me down a little.

A little. If I’d still been alive by March 2020 in the first place, which to be fair would have been unlikely.

Conclusion – thank God I don’t have to drink anymore. Hallelujah! If I had I’d be dead by now and although it mildly fascinates me to ponder at what stage and how the pandemic might have played out for this particular drunk, I guess it’s a fairly dull story. It always is if you already know the ending, and that’s the one thing you’re always guaranteed as an addict, at least if it’s a substance you’re addicted to. It’ll kill ya. Just say no, kids. Hah.

This is quite possibly the loveliest thing of all with recovery – the chance to create better chapters and out of all the ways in which we may feel a life could be wasted, at least destroying yourself wasn’t how it all had to end. Who knows how my story will end, but it won’t be in a puddle of urine or in a fire or head cracked open in the bathtub or from my heart giving up because of alcohol.

And so here I am now, almost four years on and looking forward to the new year ahead that I get to have because I’m sober. In the summer – all being well – I will qualify as a counsellor and I have identified the next training I want to embark on after these initial studies. It’s so exciting! I’m loving the studies and I’m loving the client work, and I’m so happy I found what feels like my calling. I actually can’t believe this is me doing this, it seems surreal. Rewind two and a half years and I nearly walked out that first morning at the realisation there were “check-ins” every time, meaning I’d have to actually … SPEAK. In front of people. It’s a miracle I stayed in that chair because I very nearly packed it in, but maybe it was meant to be. And now I’ve even done presentations, with another workshop in just a month. With a partner who seems to have more of a laissez-faire approach than my military operation precision kind, but even that doesn’t worry me. We’re all different and as different as me and Partnerella are, I think we’ll be OK. Either way, my side of the street shall be sparkling clean and it’s not for me to worry about whether Partnerella produces a Phd thesis or a post-it note – I’ll do my best and that’s that. It seems a little unreal that I’m now looking at the home stretch of these initial studies that will hopefully see me qualify.

See? It’s a very different ‘That Last Stretch’ you get to have when you get sober. Nice, eh?

We’re moving in just a week, to a sexy new house on the other side of the river from where we are now – new area, new street, new everything really. Hubby gets all weirdly annoyed when I call the new house “sexy”, but it is. It’s unusual and once we get settled and get everything the way we want it, it’ll be such a cool space. It backs on to a little stream that flows down to the Thames, which is right at the end of our new street, 100 yards or so from the house. The big park won’t be on our doorstep anymore, but I am happy to trade it for long runs along the river path, ta very much. The new neighbours seem lovely too, they even have their own little Facebook group and seem to know each other well, which is a fantastic surprise. Makes me feel safe to know you have friendly people around you who seem to look out for each other.

All the menfolk seem to be doing well too. Hubby still has the best pins on the planet and is the most glorious soul I’ve ever known. Even when he’s irritating me he’s my favourite human. Bonus sons both doing well, which isn’t surprising as they’re fkn awesome young men with their heads screwed on and hearts located in the right place. Bambino is doing good too, working hard at school and got a job washing dishes at a pub too, and all loved up with his girlfriend. Wider family fine too, in their various corners of the world, and I hope we get to see them in the new year.

So I guess that’s me, right here at the tail end of 2021. At peace, content and excited for the future. Roll on 2022.

Life is fucking amazing. Someone said right at the beginning that recovery would give me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I smiled politely but thought it was bullshit. I thought I’d get sober and things would get better. But I never thought it would get THIS good. I never thought I would ever turn things around in the way that I did and still am doing. Holy cannoli. So if you, who is reading this, are worried (as I was) that life sober will be dull and that the only thing that’ll change is you won’t be so hungover, trust me on this – recovery changes everything. It’s changed everything for me and I’m nowhere near the ending yet. OK, so I could be struck by lightning or a truck tomorrow – life comes with no guarantees, after all – but even if these almost four years were all I got to have, getting sober was still the best thing I did and the life I have now really is beyond anything I ever thought was possible.

Happy New Year!

Today I’m not going to drink.

On ice

What kind of fuckery is this? Thought I’d kick off the week in the loveliest way I know: with a run in the park. And what a glorious morning too, the early morning sky a pink hue and the cold snap of last week over so a little milder and gone too were the winds brought by storm Arwen. I had my booster jab a week ago and although I don’t know for sure if this was the reason my energy levels were at a low for days, I felt much stronger again and was SO looking forward to a lap around the park. Music in my ears and off I went. Barely half a kilometre into the park there were deer wandering across the main path so I decided to head off down a smaller track to leave them in peace, and this is where I noticed a slightly painful cramp in my right calf. The sensible thing to do here would have been to stop and stretch a little and then maybe walk for a while to warm up a bit, but I was so annoyed at the crappy runs I’ve had the previous week that I refused and instead stubbornly continued because I was going to enjoy a long run come hell or high water. Minutes later down the muddy, slippery track hell caught up with me and my calf just seized up so hard it made me stumble. I hobbled back home and here I am now on the sofa, where Hubby ordered me to sit with my leg elevated and calf resting against an ice pack. Grr.

I don’t know when to stop and even when I do I bloody don’t. The irony isn’t lost on anyone, I imagine.

A good friend of mine, who I have called Willow on this blog when I’ve mentioned her, has created a fantastic TikTok series of clips where she talks about death and dying. She is a hospice nurse and what she’s doing is fantastic, plus she does it really well. I’m toying with the idea of doing something similar but around addiction and recovery. Problem is I don’t like being in front of people or the centre of attention so it seems, even to me, a slightly strange idea. However, it is and always has been, my goal to speak loudly about my experience as addiction – like death and dying – is one of those subjects we seem to hide and hush down like we’re too scared of it. Who knows, the idea is percolating and maybe I just need to get over myself, do what the hell I like and not care so much about my faulty alarm system.

Speaking of which, I am getting a better handle on the panic signals my brain sends me. I’m also getting better at spotting bad energy when it comes my way. These days I am much better at closing the door on people and things that are no good for me or who have no business darkening my existence, but once in a while some f*cktard slips through the net and so I’ve spent the past few days looking over my boundaries and reinforced the fencing here and there. Because I’m quite a naive and very trusting soul, I am especially prone to being fooled by the more conniving type of individual – the sort that disguises their shitty-ness with appearing overly nice and kind. Even insults are carefully wrapped up to the point where they almost sound like compliments. Not having that rubbish in my life, but as luck would have it there is a situation where I have no choice but to get along and function with one of these mood killers, so I’m doing my best not to let the dark shit they tease out in me linger beyond what I absolutely have to put up with, which I intend to keep to a bare minimum.

Being a quiet person who prefers to hold back and observe probably sometimes gives the impression that I’m an easy target, but it’s different now – it feels like my eyes have been opened and I’m less likely to fall for bullshit these days – and I’ve been taken for a few rides too many to entertain it again. That’s all well and good I suppose, but I still have work to do as to how much I allow it to affect me. In a way it’s worse when you think it’s a friend and not a foe, it’s just seems colder and so much more manipulative when someone acts the saint. That’s what this person does – a complete and utterly maddening dichotomy of saccharine and viciousness. No thank you. Go shit on your own doorstep, mine is sparkling clean for the holidays.

Yes, I am in a stinking mood, but guess what? I’m nearly four years sober and life is pretty damn awesome! I hold the power here and so shitty things and people are shown the door and cramping muscles are elevated and put on ice. Here on the Pink Cloud we only allow love in and we only let love out too. All others need not bother, you will be turned away.

How are you all? We’re staying put for Christmas as we’re moving house – looks like this will happen five minutes before Christmas as everything has dragged out but that’s cool. I have my boys and everything else I need in my life and now that precious diploma is actually within touching distance too. Life genuinely just keeps getting better every day and all these rewards continue to come my way for this one simple reason:

Today I’m not going to drink.