He said what he said

I know you’re anxious, but I also know you have no reason to be, because you always come through and you always do well“, Hubby said.

Guess what? I feel embarrassed writing that, in the same way I’d feel embarrassed saying something that isn’t true. Which I don’t, and hell will freeze over before I start bullshitting here on Storm, the place where I air my dirtiest laundry without an ounce of shame. Actually, THAT is bullshit. I feel shame. Often and a lot. But it doesn’t make me say untrue things, is my point. Here on Storm it’s the whole truth and nothing but, no matter how much it makes me squirm.

Telling you what Hubby said definitely makes me squirm. Apologies if you’re against using worms for fishing, but it’s the image that comes to mind when I want to describe how I feel typing his comment above – like a live worm that’s just been impaled on the hook. Like a little piece of spaghetti having some sort of squiggly fit. Wow – I actually just shivered (and it’s nice and warm in here).

We were talking about how much is in my head right now and how distracted and absent minded this makes me. My beautiful Hubby asked me how he can support me. I know, it’s ridiculous how lovely he is – I almost feel like apologising for claiming him for myself. Hah! There it is again, my in-the-gutters self worth. Like I don’t deserve him. Hey, I don’t know if I do. I don’t know who would. He’s the most wonderful person on the planet. Anyhoo. My head is all over the place because it’s the last few weeks of the counselling course and there’s an external assessment, then an exam and as all fuckery would have it another presentation too. On top of that, I’m finishing up my placement and riding off into the sunset solo with most of my clients coming with me (the agency allows this as they have more clients than they can place with trainees), and this means getting a bunch of stuff in order (contracts, invoicing, insurance – TONNES). Then there’s the hardcore training I’ve been accepted for that has my feet so cold I can no longer feel them. It’s all whirring around in my brain, and whilst it’s all really positive, it’s filling me with the whole range of emotions from joyous excitement to fearful doubt.

And so he said what he said above.

My reaction? I went warm because I love him so much and it’s such a lovely thing to say – he heard me and acknowledged how I’m feeling, then presented me with his view of Anna. His view is one I just can’t see. So for a while I sat there and tried a bit of reality testing. Do I always come through? Maybe I do? I mean, I’m fucking terrified most of the time but I’ve not given up on anything yet. I’m still going and so far it’s all gone to plan. All the things I’ve set out to do, I’ve managed to do so far. Do I always do well? If I look at the Dark Years, the answer is no. In active addiction I mostly managed to wing it, and whilst I always seemed to come through, I can’t say I did anything particularly well. It was mostly autopilot and getting away with a LOT of shit. But since then? Since I came out on the other side? Have I “always” done well? Not sure about that, but I’ve DONE it and it’s been well enough.

So if I reframe his words to something I feel more comfortable with I guess it’d go something like “I always come through and mostly I do well enough“.

Case in point:

Tonight. Hubby is watching the Champions League final and I took my laptop to the couch to get another section of the external assessment (essentially a case study of a client) done. Did a little bit of that, and then decided to head over here to Storm. I feel reasonably certain I know what I’m doing and I’ll pass. No, wait – I’m reasonably certain I’ll comfortably pass. Oohhhh, check me out! Almost arrogant, no? Bottom line is I’ve done a little bit. I’ll have it done in the next couple of days. I’m not being a perfect study robot, but I’m doing well enough. I’m doing OK. And maybe that’s all I need.

I do want to get to a point where it won’t feel so uncomfortable to hear something like that said about me. The fact that it does and how I feel so awkward writing it here – even more so than when I’ve aired my dirtiest laundry – means a lot of work is still ahead. Hah! That’s OK though, right? Because this chick always comes through! YEAH!

Time to let this squiggly spaghetti worm off the hook perhaps? Give myself some slack? Maybe even a little credit? Well. One step at a time.

All I need is certainty around a few simple things. Like knowing I’ll always come through, probably not perfect but I’ll do well enough.

All will be well because:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Trolls and Vaginas

Wow, so THAT was the dance we were engaged in all this time? I don’t know if I put this lightbulb down to one thing over another, I suspect it’s a combination of three: getting sober, the counselling studies and finally opening that boarded up space deep inside the darkest recesses of my soul and shining a light into it.

Growing up as I did in Sweden, in the countryside with the deep forests as my playground, my imagination as a child was often set in motion from Scandinavian folklore. This is often set against the forest and the magical, mystical and sometimes treacherous beings who reside there. It’s even in everyday language – whilst in English you “speak of the devil”, in Swedish we “speak of the trolls” and find them standing on our porches the moment we have uttered the words. The trolls aren’t evil but they do sort of hold the title of the Baddie of the Woods. It’s mostly because they just want to mess with us humans. If you’ve just milked the cows and turn away from a bucket full of milk, a terrible troll may seize the opportunity to dash up and kick it over. That sort of thing. As such, in the stories and fairytales I grew up with, you are rarely at war with them, they are more of a nuisance and what you want is to just make peace with them so they’ll leave you alone. If you mess with the forest – their home – this is a real faux pas and this is when they’ll really set their sights on you.

I don’t remember any stories where anyone wanted to kill trolls, but there’s this saying that goes along the lines of if you need to kill a troll, all you need to do is drag it out into the sunlight because that makes them explode.

Why am I speaking of the trolls? *glancing nervously at the front door* I don’t like the idea of killing trolls, they were my friends when I struggled to have human ones, but the saying about how you go about it I think applies to secrets and things we are either ashamed of or try to bury. You drag them out into the light and they lose their power, or at least some of it. And of course, it’s here that I began that process with addiction. Hah! In a small way to begin with, I even called myself ‘Sophie’ those first few weeks, like someone I knew might stumble into the Storm and see me for what I’d become: a drunky-drunk. Here, I found all of you lot, you beautiful bloggers who inspire me, challenge me and revealed yourselves as my tribe. Functioning Guzzler quite possibly the most extraordinary story of all, on the other side of the world, got sober around the same time. Two lost souls, literally a world apart, who somehow became sisters in arms in this battle and here we both still are, four and a half years later. Others too, who I have never met, whose faces I haven’t seen, who I only know through your blogs and even so seem closer than family. It’s incredible when I think about it, and how powerful it is how just dragging our trolls into the sunlight can create absolute fucking MAGIC.

Then came the really hard work. Any PR professional will tell you that whatever you do, what you need to identify is your WHY. This became important to me. Not the ‘why’ in terms of blogging or understanding addiction per se (although there are big ‘whys’ there too – those were always clear though), but why my story turned out the way it did. I wanted to understand what happened. And so I have worked my large backside off trying to understand and figure out my why. It’s been painful and taken me to the darkest places – although not quite as dark as addiction itself – but I am slowly coming through. I will no doubt spend the rest of my life feeling varying levels of pain because what I tried to achieve as an addict you cannot do sober – UNfeel, UNsee, UNhear.. …UNbe – but whilst that sounds depressing, I don’t feel sad about it. It’s part of who I am. It happened. It happened to me. So now what? I can curl up in a ball (or go back to destroying myself) or I can accept it and make the best of what I’ve been given. Accepting it doesn’t mean I have to think it’s OK (and I don’t), but it DOES mean I don’t have to allow it to seep in and poison all the good things in my life.

And good things – there are more than I can count.

I know, I know… It seems like I’ve just done what I often do and just gone off-piste, but there is a point to all this, I promise.

So let’s just back up for a moment. Sobriety, counselling and trolls into the sunlight. And there was something about a dance, right?

I spoke with someone very close to me. Family. There it was, the heavy and achy ball of what feels like a mixture of anger and regret, right there in the pit of my stomach. And something really strange happened. Somehow, I’d stepped off the dance floor. It’s actually a shit analogy because you’d never find me on one – I only dance when I’m alone, or with the trolls as it happens, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that I have some serious moves. Anyway. We spoke for an hour, which is odd in itself, and three distinct points came where clearly I was expected to do what I always do but …. didn’t.

  1. Bend against my wishes and agree to keep the peace.
  2. Defend my idol.
  3. Reassure and validate them.

Now that I think of it, it’s probably why we stayed on the phone for as long as we did. Funny, that.

Oh, it made me want to bite. Bark AND bite. Over and over. Aim arrows at their Achilles heel, which I know the exact location of and could hit with my eyes closed. Kick and scream. All the behaviours of a frustrated toddler with the addition of malice. Oh wait? Am I malicious? Not as a rule, but I think it’d be fucking daft to pretend I don’t have the capacity for it just like everyone else. See? It’s freeing to embrace all our broken and ugly parts, and guess what? We all have those. I consider myself a better person for having the vagina to admit it though. Why do we say “have the balls” anyway? What a useless body part! OK, I guess it’s nature’s design for storing baby making stuff but bloody hell, she sure did cut loose on the safety aspects here. Why carry the most precious cargo in such an exposed and vulnerable manner, dangling away like that? Although most men seem very protective of them so maybe that was the safety feature she added when she realised what a fuck-up balls were?

Anna!! Enough with testicles and back to the dance.

I guess what I wanted to get to was how I realised after this conversation that went so differently to how it normally would, was how I have actually grown. In counselling terms I guess I, during this phone call, managed to stay in my ‘adult state’. It’s a state I have rarely visited, so perhaps that’s what surprised me.

Without fighting or bending, I still held my boundaries. I didn’t agree when I in fact disagreed, nor did I get rattled at the sermon preached at me. OK, I still feel that heaviness sitting in my stomach and a little in my chest, but not unbearably so. I guess the best way to sum it up would be to say it was probably the first time I had a conversation with this Close Person that I didn’t come away from feeling worse. You know when you feel pushed over or attacked and you come away seething with anger and frustration, all boiling over with all the things you’d tell them – a real fucking piece of your mind – if you had the … vagina.

Does this even make any sense? I guess it doesn’t matter. Another brain dump.

I have definitely grown. Things have and are shifting. There is a presentation still to go and I don’t even feel sick. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I dread it, but I don’t know if I feel quite as awful as I used to.

How is everyone?

Back to the course work. Last sprint. Keep going. One day at a time.

Today I’m not going to drink.