1,895 Days

My anxiety is off the charts. It likes to pounce at bedtime. I read myself into sleepiness, sometimes successfully managing to trick my brain into getting lost in a narrative of someone else’s making and not the racing thoughts carrying all this angst, worry and churning despair I seem to get so overwhelmed by. But then, as soon as I switch off the light, even when I genuinely believe I’m going to slip into blissful sleep, my heart starts racing and its pounding inside my ribcage gets me wide awake.

Some things are new, but let’s start with what has remained the same:

  1. I’m still sober.
  2. I’m still surrounded by people I love.

Some new things:

  1. My inner critic/tyrant has a name now: Bible John.
  2. A new friendship has formed with someone I adore: let’s call her Clippy, because if she ever reads this I think it’ll make her laugh because it’s something only we know.
  3. A friendship ended. Actually, make that two.
  4. I discovered that stagnation makes me unhappier than leaving my comfort zone. Fuck.
  5. My maternal grandmother passed away this week. Although at nearly 95 it’s a bit odd to have her on a list of “new” things. Not cool to make jokes? Oh relax, she is giggling in her heaven, I promise you that.

So as the first list implies, I am happily sober, happily the mother of Bambino who still delights and terrifies me in equal measure, (mostly – we’re fresh out of a row so my attitude is somewhat poor still) happily married to the man with gorgeous pins and doing what I love for a living.

As for the second list, I don’t know why grandma – or mormor – ended up at the bottom. And this will sound insanely insensitive and downright WRONG to say, but I think it’s the part that has caused the least brain activity in terms of the racing thoughts kind. I absolutely 100% feel sad that she’s passed on, she was a grandmother straight out of the most perfect storybook (small, rotund, sweet, parent defying yay-sayer, excellent baker and kickass storyteller) and I love her to pieces. Beyond her grandmother qualities she is also alongside her daughter, my mum, one of the strongest women I know and a true role model. So why is my tone light and jokey? I think what my mum said in a text sums it up: “she’s old, she’s unable to care for herself, her body is worn out and she’s finished with life now – and what a run!” – it’s terribly sad and we all feel her loss, but it was her time. This last year, she’s been in a care home because she was getting so incredibly frail and could no longer do anything for herself. She lost her eyesight almost two years ago (she told me this was her greatest challenge in life) and her hearing was pretty shot too. Death comes to us all, but to mormor it came after a full life packed with love and joy (and sure, hardship too – just like death, this seems pretty inescapable for us humans) and except for these past 3-4 years when she became so frail and helpless, she got over 90 years of good health and independence. No pain, no tragedy. And again, as my mother put in another text message: “what is happening here is life“.

So rest in peace, sweet little mormor. I’m so glad I got to have you and not just through childhood but well into my middle age! A life lived well, followed by a natural and peaceful end. The overwhelming feeling is gratitude. Mormor was at the end of her journey and it was a good one. Her granary rolls were legendary, and try as I might, no matter how closely I follow baking them exactly as she taught me, no one can make them like she did. She must have added some secret magic somehow. Storybook grandmas can do that.

The first and second entry are a bit connected. A friend has come into my life and we discovered we both have really vicious inner critics. Hers has a name. And after pondering mine, we landed on Bible John. And yes, I do realise that’s the name of a Scottish serial killer but that made me feel like I flip him the bird and empowers me a bit. Demean him a little, like he does me so much. That judgemental voice inside feels male and it feels a bit old and it has a righteous, slightly religious nuance to it. So he’s Bible John and I delight in telling him to fuck off on occasion. Still has a huge hold over me but Stockholm wasn’t built in one day.

Lost friendships. One was a curveball because I thought it was a long haul thang we had goin’ on. I distanced myself, but even though it seemed needed and the right thing to do at the time, I’ve thought about her a lot lately and wonder if I could have handled things better. Not wondering actually – I’m quite sure I could have. But hey, we do the best we can with the tools we have and I had to honour myself. Ah, Bible John is HATING how I say that! Another friendship fizzled out. C’est la vie. But yes, the first one I guess I do feel a bit sad about. Bible John is busy telling me I’m a shit friend – this is what he does, see?

Stagnation… Last year I was accepted to further training that I was oh so keen to do and felt so incredibly happy and grateful to be accepted to. (Bible John is wanting me to say I was shocked too – he’s right in that I was, but he also wants to say it was a mistake or I tricked them in the interview somehow). The first stage of three years to get qualified really took all I had and I needed a break. There were also things going on with Bambino that felt urgent and required my available headspace. A big part was also my absolute Richter scale worthy bouts of anxiety and dread around group situations (actually, make that anything that involves “social” and “people”), and the closer I got to the autumn, the more my stomach would fall out any time I thought of it. So I decided to defer for a year, maybe forever. Simply because the counselling training had me on my knees so many times.

What I discovered was the same thing I discovered when I first got sober – stagnation is my enemy. It gets me down with it faster than the opening chords of Mmm-bop. Part of me thought fuck it, I’m qualified, let’s just do this thing and enjoy it, no need to keep moving, just bob along gently and revel in how I now can. Whilst I love doing this and it absolutely fulfils me, not feeding my brain gets me super antsy. Not moving forward or towards something gets me really, really restless and lost. So I had a firm chat with myself and so this autumn I’m jumping right back on. As much as it requires of me, stagnation and bobbing along destroys me more so it’s back to feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

When it comes to dread and anxiety I’d like to add I flew to New Zealand and back and didn’t die again. Nice.

But what is my anxiety up to? A lot of it centres around Bambino. He’s going off-piste and pursuing his passion and has managed to kick down some doors most people can only dream of. It’s getting to a crunch and because it’s his dream I’m having kittens terrified he’ll be crushed. However, the industry he’s kicking doors down in is cut throat and notoriously difficult to make it in, so whilst he’s determined and tough and talented, I pray I’ve managed to equip him with enough resilience to withstand some bruising, because I think that’s an unavoidable part of that business.

As for actual bruises, he got a shiner a couple of weeks back – he works at a dodgy pub and there was a punch-up. His manager got knocked to the ground, another man got punched so bad he ended up with a broken jaw and a woman got in the way of punches too, and as Bambino comes running to check what’s happened someone clocked him right to the side of his face. Police called, trip to A&E, the lot. And if I could find words to describe how I felt seeing Bambino with an eye swollen shut – knowing someone had seriously harmed him – it would be the most gut wrenching thing you’d ever read but words to capture that just don’t exist. But he’s OK and that too has passed.

Right now he’s on his way home and I’m annoyed because he was out Friday and Saturday and I have even less chance of falling asleep if I’m still waiting to hear the door slam shut with Bambino safely inside it. Rat bag. But he’s 18 and the days of being able to shield him from all harm are over. However, the days of me and Hubby outlining what is acceptable in a home shared with others and consideration for said ‘others’ are very much still here. Fuck’s sake, I have a full on morning with clients tomorrow and so I need my sleep.

On balance, I guess I’m OK. And I always will be as long as:

Today I’m not going to drink. Oh look, it’s one minute past midnight. So yesterday I didn’t think and today I won’t either. Hello Monday.


A bit obnoxious

Oh! Are there these prompt questions now when you open a blank draft page in WordPress? Where I’m sure it used to say “start writing your post here” or similar, there was now a question and it asked me “What would you change about yourself?”.

Alrighty then.

I don’t know. Nothing too drastic, I don’t think. I would change how I’m putting off getting myself into running again, maybe. Had an injury that manifested as a cramp in my calf but was actually an inflammation in my lower back, and my last run was in JANUARY. That’s nearly a year ago. Then, of course, we got Rangi and because he and I go for an hour long brisk walk most mornings, adding running has seemed (or I’ve written it off as such in my lazy mind) a bit surplus…

It seems a bit obnoxious not to create a long list of my flaws – and God knows I have them a’plenty – but if I were to change lots of things, even the things about myself that bother me or trip me up, then I’d end up with… …not me. And I like me, for all my flaws and shortcomings. I like my life and I like what and who is in it. I like how it’s going and what it is from day to day. So I guess I’m pretty content with staying put with the things that make me ME and how life is playing out. I mean, you can’t fool proof life, can you? Pain will always find us and so will hardship and curveballs. And now that I’m able to meet any challenge, why mess with the formula?

Hm, it still seems obnoxious, even with the disclaimer that highlights I’m not bumbling around thinking I’m perfect.

Fuck it.

Things are good. Things are just how I like them. I’m just Anna. And that’s OK with me.

This year we have ended up with the most perfect Christmas tree I’ve ever seen – it’s dense and perfectly shaped, like it’s been manicured by an elf stylist. Our first Christmas here in this house that I’m full on in love with now. There’s also the outdoor lighting, an icicle string of lights that wraps around the front of the house, and it sits just above the ground floor windows. I think it’s meant to go right under the roof, so part of me thinks it might look as though it’s slid down the house, but it’s bright and it’s pretty and …fuck it.

Work is going well, client case load swelled quickly and ticking along nicely, and I gotta say it’s so lovely to do something I genuinely feel passionate about for a living. I haven’t had that many jobs I’ve felt bleurgh about but never felt so content about what I do before. It’s rare to me. Rare to really care and feel really good about it, as in “what I did today MATTERS”.

I fkn hate reading blogs that bleat on about how good everything is, by the way. And usually when I do, I think whoever writes stuff like that is hiding crap behind a glossy veneer of positivity.

So – yep, anxiety continues to be my steadfast companion and low self worth, whilst not as prominent, is very much there too. But I catch those two more often and sometimes we even have what feels like a fruitful conversation about our relationship. We get on OK, I suppose. Maybe we’ve made peace. The sharp edges aren’t so sharp anymore.

Best get on. I signed up for a course that turned out a lot meatier than I thought when I – on impulse, as ever – decided oohhh this sounds good.

Hope everyone is doing good.

Things are good here.

Because I’m 1,777 days sober, and:

Today I’m not going to drink.

Today I’m good

Bambino – good. Hubby – good. Doggy – good. Work – good. Friends – good.

Because I’m sober.

Actually, putting it like that might be a little misleading. I guess it could seem like sobriety is something I have to fight for, and these days – almost five years down the line – that’s not the case. However, my sobriety was hard won and any way you look at it, what my life looks like today is entirely because I am sober. It’s the reason I’m not six feet under. Plain and simple. So whilst I don’t struggle like I did in the beginning, I will never lose sight of what it took to get here. It took all I had.

It doesn’t come up so much anymore, which is natural I guess. Friends I’ve made since I stopped drinking have never known me to drink, so the people I see on an everyday basis just don’t know Drunk Me and the friends who do don’t miss her. The people who knew me then missed ME. The woman who is here now. The woman who came back.

Yes, my story has some dark twists and turns but it has a major fucking come-back!

As it happens, my husband asked me yesterday when we went for a drive, and I don’t know what prompted it: “do you ever struggle with not drinking now?

It’s funny because only the other day I thought about it. It just popped into my head, not sure why. I conjured up the idea of a glass of wine and putting it to my lips and I’m not kidding, it made me feel queasy. The sour taste of wine, the taste you have to sort of train yourself to first tolerate, then not mind, then maybe even enjoy. I don’t think anyone enjoyed wine at the first taste, did they? Genuine question, by the way. Or whisky. Hubby likes both. And he genuinely likes both. And has no issue with either or any other type of alcohol. Weird creatures, those normies, but there we are.

So my answer was a firm and unflinching no, but I liked the question because I like to ponder these things, not least because there was a time when I couldn’t imagine not drinking.

Here’s where others in recovery might wag a finger at me in warning – don’t get cocky, girl. I’m not sure that I am, but I still want to point out that in no way, shape or form have I lost sight of what my addiction stole from me (and those who love me). And in no way, shape or form do I believe I could ever drink again. But here’s the point: I don’t want to.

I don’t have anything else to add here just now. I guess I just came in here to my little blog to ramble, like I usually do. Although over the past two or three years it’s been less often. But that sums it up I suppose – I started this blog as an outlet when I took on the fight of my life. Or, more accurately, the fight FOR my life.

Today I’m not fighting for my life.

Today I’m living.

Today I have a lovely life – not a perfect one, but a beautifully flawed and curveball-prone life with lots of love and curiosity and joy in it.

Today I’m a kickass mother.

Today I’m a kickass wife – I’m kind, mostly sweet, a little troubled and messed up, reliable and full of love but grumpy in the morning before I have coffee.

Today I get to do something I love for a living.

Today I am content.

Today I’m not going to drink.

1,709 Days

Life seems to be rushing by at such a speed and with so much happening that I don’t even know where to begin. There used to be such consistency in my blogging, in how each post felt like a natural continuation of what I had last written. Over the past two or three years, it’s been much more sporadic and, sadly, less and less frequently that I come in here to pour out my thoughts. And so when I do feel the urge to write, to share, to ponder, I open the blank template and because it’s been a while I then feel I must somehow include everything that’s happened and it becomes a big task that I then retreat from. There were five drafts sitting here waiting for me. So I deleted them and started a new post. I don’t even know what I’d begun to write in any of them, because of course time has passed and whatever was on my mind probably isn’t on my mind now. At least not as urgent or encompassing as it might have been in the moment.

Well. I’m now a qualified therapist and things are off to a great start. I have clients from my placement who chose to come with me to my private practice, which is nice. With the agency’s blessing of course, I hasten to add! Such is the need that they allow us trainees to take our clients with us, given they have more clients coming in than they are able to place with counsellors. Another handful has come along and I’ve also secured a place with a local service where I’ll be seeing clients face to face, so in all I am in a great place with it. Long may it continue, although that feels wrong to say as of course my livelihood depends on the things that make people suffer emotionally in various ways. I love it, always did. It’s satisfying, fulfilling, enriching and fascinating. And of course it feeds into my yearning to be needed, helpful and supportive. It ticks a lot of boxes, maybe almost all of them.

Bambino has had a rough ride and this summer I experienced what is easily the worst moment of my life, a couple of minutes where I thought the icy grip of panic, terror and despair was going to make my heart stop. I can’t find words to describe the paralysing terror I felt, so I won’t try. Let’s leave it there for the time being. It was rough but things are better now. Bambino has his spark back and when the boy I knew returned along with the sparkle in his big blue eyes, I cried tears of joy, relief and gratitude. I don’t feel right about sharing what’s been going on, it doesn’t feel like it’s my right to tell his story and besides how could I? I can only see it from my perspective so it wouldn’t be the most accurate version anyway. Suffice to say my sun sets and rises with Bambino and his happiness and well being mercilessly determines mine. As it should be, I suppose – such is the curse of parenthood. Your heart wandering around outside your body.

He turns 18 in just over a month. I’m so proud of him and so excited for him – what a brilliant age to be! His turn and time and opportunity to take a step out into the world and discover who he is and what he wants to do with it, the world and his place within it. He has this year of A’levels to go, and then it’s all there for him to make his choices and grasp for his dreams. Music has become his passion (and he ain’t half bad, the little wordsmith and his grime battle raps) and he’s now also talking about university and has mentioned Law. Lofty goals perhaps, but it’s not for me to choose for him. My role is to support, wrap around where needed, and just continue to do what I’ve always done: love him to pieces. Over the past 1,709 days I’ve done a really good job of all those responsibilities as I’ve been present, clear and solid as a rock. I could bury myself in guilt over how I couldn’t fully fulfil those duties during the Drinking Years, but I’m trying to use that as a reminder of where I never want to end up again as opposed to a rod for my own back. I can’t change it. I can only be the best I can be now.

18. An adult. Bambino with the sparkly, big blue eyes and cheeky grin. My little man is no longer little, towering over me and already so much wiser than I’ll ever be. Already so in tune with himself and the world around him. *sigh*

As for life in general, it goes on as it does and should. I said “rushing” above, but that’s not quite right. It’s not necessarily that it’s moving fast, it’s probably more that it’s filled with good things that make it rich and engaging. And yet, that doesn’t mean a busy social calendar or spectacular experiences at every turn – my life is low key in that sense I guess, but it’s a life I love and enjoy. Hubby remains the great big love of my life and I guess our marriage mirrors life in how it fulfils me and there’s nowhere I’d rather be. My happy place.

And I’m 1,709 days sober. Coming up to five years. 5. FIVE. Nope, doesn’t feel real. I remember when I first started this blog and five days felt surreal.

Life isn’t perfect and all days aren’t sunny. But I know how to roll with the punches and whilst I wouldn’t be caught dead dancing in the rain (or anywhere else for that matter) I can handle the downpours.

Life on life’s terms. Yep. So it goes. And I’m good with that.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Pinch me

You know, I didn’t think anything could ever compare to sobriety when it comes to pinch-me moments.

Sure, Bambino is the centre of my universe and there is nothing that makes me prouder than how I got to be his mother. But he was easy. No, no – hear me out. Giving birth was a clusterfuck and pain I never want to experience ever again, but in exchange for this tiny little human being who has grown to be a wonderful young man? No sweat. Bring it on a thousand times over and I’d still come winning out of the negotiation. To love Bambino is easy. When he arrived it was like the heavens opened and nothing was ever the same again. I guess I did raise him – and OK, credit due to his father as well – but again, I don’t consider him MY achievement. He’s just Bambino and his brilliance is all his. He is his own achievement. I’m just the insanely fortunate woman who got to call myself his mother.

So whilst he is most definitely in the pinch-me category, it’s not because he is something I did. Bambino is of the pinch-me-how-did-I-get-so-lucky category.

Get sober, however, is something I did. I still feel like I’m lying, like somehow it’s not real, when I say the following: I have been sober 1,630 days. Four years, five months and 18 days. ME. I did that. I can’t believe it. Can you? PINCH ME.

And now we are in July 2022. And I am qualifying as a counsellor. An integrative therapist. ME. I did that. I can’t believe it and it’s just not sinking in. PINCH ME.

No part of me thought for a second I could get sober and no part of me believed there was even the slightest chance I’d be able to do this training and qualify. Not even the teeniest, tiniest bit. See, I want to rejoice and celebrate but I just can’t grasp that I’m actually here, it doesn’t feel any more real than 1,630 days.

Almost three years ago, in September 2019, I took a selfie as I walked into the college. I didn’t intend to look scared but it’s a good thing I’m not into poker. Look at this terrified woman!

And here she is now.

Three years on. I nearly walked out on that first day, and I’ve nearly walked out several times since.

But I didn’t.

I did it.

I was terrified but I did it.

There is more to say, so much more, but it will have to wait until I can actually process that this is real.



Anna – Sobriety Ninja & Integrative Therapist

Oh, and:

Today I’m not going to drink.

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 via 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.

1,594 Days

Hm… Back to that old tradition of putting my days sober as the title when I don’t have anything in particular to say. Really just popping in here because I for the longest time have kept thinking “I must post something on my blog soon!” and this time it really has been the LONGEST time since I last did.

So much has happened!

Well. I did write back in January, but looking at that it’d seem what preoccupied my mind was the Workshop of Doom and all the anxiety that went with that, as well as my thoughts around passing the FOUR YEAR SOBRIETY MILESTONE – sorry, it does need capitalising like that, because it’s freaking MENTAL that this is something this hopeless old drunk went and pulled off. And here she is now – ME!! – still sober and very happily so. Goddamn, that’s just the best feeling.

So, what’s new on Planet Anna? Not that I think there’s an expectant audience waiting with bated breath here in the blogosphere or anything, but this is the place I pour my thoughts out so if you have stumbled in here, an update is due. Even if I’m just a very insignificant little speck in the universe.

We moved into our new home in January and whilst Hubby fell in love with this sexy house at first sight, I was slower to warm to it. Now, three months in, I absolutely love it and I am so glad it was here we ended up, in this dreamy house with its dreamy name, where our huge terrace backs on to a stream. It’s one of those moments when I feel “someone pinch me!” when I lay down to sleep with the bedroom window open listening to the soft murmur of the water flowing below. Our belongings – paintings, photos, existing furniture – have found their new place, new furniture and things have been added – Hubby finally got his fancy super-duper BBQ and we’ve been having BBQ every night since – and it really feels like “home” now. Absolutely thrilled.

And we also have an addition to the family. We already have three boys and added a fourth: Rangi. He is a French bulldog and he is me in dog form: bit anxious and needy, quite scared of quite a lot of things, desperate to love and be loved, has a gentle and calm nature but with completely unhinged episodes where he goes a bit mental. Yep. Like owner, like dog.

Level 4 of the counselling studies is coming to an end, just this term to go, so qualification is finally coming in to view now. I’ve lost my mojo, as I always do in spring, but because I’ve gone at it like a machine, I’m up to date with all work and only have a case study to submit before the external assessment. No “action points” at all over the course of Level 4, so I’m in good shape too. Approaching 300 client hours too, so just another 150 to burn through after qualifying for that coveted accreditation. And best of all, I’ve been accepted to the existential psychoanalysis training I’ve been lusting after. FUCK ME, THIS IS JUST BRAGGING NOW….. Well, yeah, it is. It’s my blog, and I brag if I want to. Bite me. I’m happy and very proud. I spent most of my adult life in the pit of despair, so I’m not feeling even a tiny bit sorry for feeling obnoxiously smug right now. Sobriety delivers again and again.

Anyway. Adding a photo of the mutt for cuteness.

It’s not all sunshine and lollipops. There is darkness I’ve carried with me since forever, but I am working through this still and will be for a long time no doubt. And worries in the present that are at times all my worst nightmares come true, but I shall leave those things for another time. And maybe another space given this is where I tell my story, not that of anyone else’s. Only my own dirty laundry.

But there we are. Life is life. Mostly good, very exciting, sometimes painful and occasionally gut wrenchingly difficult, but always a gift.


Today I’m not going to drink.

That too did pass

Oh, look! I didn’t die again. Ain’t that nice?

There’s a first for everything and so it would now seem that my cherry has been popped when it comes to giving a presentation in an actual room with Actual People. And it was fine. I’d even go as far as saying it went well. Certainly good enough. Partnerella delivered her part and I delivered mine. Street sparkling clean on both sides and that felt good.

However. I will tell you this without a subscription fee or additional charge: I could not do the January I just had again. I think this was the first time I actually felt like I was breaking. If this had gone on longer, I have no doubt I would have plunged into some sort of depression. The last couple of weeks before the workshop I burst into tears upon waking up. Waking up from probably on average a couple of hours’ sleep per night. And my calf is still dodgy so I’m not running every morning like I usually do. So even without the anxiety of the workshop I was already on the back foot: no running and no sleep. Major dip into the emotional overdraft already. And for the first time I was ready to walk away. I would never have deserted Partnerella but I was pretty much ready to deliver the damn thing and then pack it in, because I have worked too hard to get me back to break me again. Not gonna happen.

So from hereon out it’s baby steps.

It wasn’t just the presentation – I just ended up in a perfect storm and I suppose my anxiety did what it usually does and zoned in on the place where it was safe to let it erupt. Feel pretty foolish about whining to my course mates about how much I hate having to be the centre of attention, but they were all good natured about it and I don’t have any energy left to stress about THAT too. FFS!

Well. Now I’m over the scariest hump to date on this counselling journey and maybe now July is just about coming into view. I’m sure there are some fishbowls and horrible experiential exercises to drag myself through – sorry, no reframing in the world will get me excited about any of that – but the end is there on the horizon now. And from there, we’ll see. Before anything else, I am going to take a full month off and escape to Falla. Morning coffee by the west wall, wander around in the woods and long runs along forest roads. Lazy days by Fryken and just enjoy the Swedish summer and the nights when the sun never sets.

But that’s July and this is February. Right now I’m in our new home that still doesn’t feel like home, but it IS a lovely, lovely house and I’m sure that’ll all come right too.

That’s me. Fuck off January, I’m glad to see the back of you. Next time you’re gonna play nice, you hear me? Hello February, relieved to see you and I hope I get something nice for my birthday – please can I have running back, please?

All will be well, because:

Today I’m not going to drink.

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.