4 Years

I didn’t have the peace of mind to mark the day on the day itself (Sunday 23rd), but I can’t not at least say something.

Truth is I’m really struggling. Not with sobriety, but with my anxiety. The moment is rushing towards me, when I have to do the thing I find scarier than anything else and stand up and speak in front of people, but there is nothing I can do about it and this too shall pass. But because I dread it so much the bottom of my stomach falls out each time I think of it, I’ve been making myself ill these past couple of weeks.

It’s a workshop for the counselling course. Me and one other are paired up do do a workshop lasting about two and a half hours on LGBTQIA+. She is coming over to mine today and we’re going to run through the material. It’s the first time I do this in an actual room with actual people. Only the Zoom version last year, but that was bad enough and I’m feeling so awful about this that I keep bursting into tears. I’ve tried to reassure myself that none of the worst things will happen (but even if they do, none of the scenarios are likely to ruin my life!), people don’t hate me on sight (at least not everyone – I guess some might!) and I’ll be no better or worse than anyone else. Well, it’s my hard thing and I’m feeling sick with worry. But this is it, living life on life’s terms.

I do have a choice I suppose – we always do to some extent, and in this instance I guess I could refuse or quit the course or run away in whichever manner I choose. But this is what I want to do – become a counsellor – and this is the training and the hoops I have to jump through to do so. So I choose to do this.

I’ve resorted to taking Nytol (an over the counter sleep aid – it’s basically antihistamines that make you drowsy) and the last couple of nights I’ve also taken the medication I’m prescribed to counter anxiety as and when I need it, Propranolol (a beta blocker). My usual crutch and feel-good method isn’t currently available to me, I have a calf injury that’s causing me grief, but I have tried to take long, brisk walks every morning to ensure I get those endorphins going a little.

It’s all so horrible and I can’t wait to get to Saturday afternoon and have it over with.

I feel awful. Honestly, I feel so shit I can’t think straight and just getting a question like “what shall we do for dinner?” has me bursting into tears because I’m so overwhelmed.

It’s a shit-sandwich and I’m feeling so, so low. Small, fragile, wobbly, uncertain, fearful and I can really tell how this is taking a huge toll on my mental health. If this were to go on for any sustained length of time I have no doubt I would get seriously ill because I am struggling BIG TIME.

But here’s the good news: none of this makes me want to drink. And if I were to drink, that’d be this counselling dream over in a heartbeat.

I may be struggling and feeling terrible, but I am sober and I’m letting life be life on its own terms.

And that’s a good thing.

And even though I nearly forgot about the 23rd (had Hubby not presented me with a little present and a card it would have slipped me by), it does fill me with exuberant joy and gratitude over where I find myself right about now, even with this shit-show looming. I am sober! I am a woman who just passed a huge milestone of sobriety and almost forgot all about it simply because drinking is no longer a part of my life and rarely figures in my thoughts. That’s SOMETHING. Quite something.

One of the first people I told when I first got sober was Dad, obviously following my best friend (Hubby). So after Hubby gave me the card and gift (a mug that has “I’m Sober, Bitch” – think it’s a play on Britney Spears, no?), I texted Dad. I told him truthfully that I can’t quite believe I got here, how grateful I am and also reassured him I have no desire to go back. Immediately came the response:

There aren’t words for what I’m feeling. You should be enormously proud of yourself, few have that strength. Love you with all my heart.

Dad was the person I was most scared would judge me. He was the hardest to tell. He is rigidly righteous and a straight arrow. No grey areas and the highest moral code. There is no underestimating how beautiful it is that he finds it in himself to praise his only daughter, the addict, for being sober. There were probably a million other things he would have preferred to be proud of.

So that’s it from me today. I’m struggling but by Saturday 29th in the afternoon I’ll be over the hump. I’m happily sober. Moving and settling in has been taxing on Hubby and I and tempers have been fraying (in no small part thanks to me being incredibly stressed and low), but on balance things are good and mostly there is this beautiful life I’m so, so grateful for. And I get to have this life because I’m sober.

It feels like a needless and obvious thing to say, but it makes me feel good and it anchors me:

Today I’m not going to drink.