232 Days

I have nothing to say. Nothing at all. 232 days. Nothing spontaneously springs to mind around sobriety that I need to tell you.

When I scroll through various sobriety forums and Facebook groups, it’s really interesting to see how different people have different experiences and I often see myself in many of those who are more newly sober than I am. Makes sense given I’m still fairly early on in my journey and it wasn’t long ago that I stood in that spot. Quite often I smile when I read victorious exclamations and determined conviction from someone who’s been sober for, say, a couple of weeks. No, not smile as in scoff. I mean smile as in it makes me happy and I remember how it felt. How you are so overcome with gratitude and filled with awe at the life you have suddenly been given back that you just KNOW in your heart you will never drink again. For me this was of course when I went to lots of AA meetings and I got SO pissed off when the old timers would dismiss me in a you’ll-soon-see sort of manner. I was made to feel that this was wrong and only the Pink Cloud that I’d soon fall down from. I think I’m still on it. Perhaps I’m a little less evangelical now that the honeymoon period draws to a close and I also don’t feel tearful with joy every morning in the absence of that dreaded hangover that was my companion for so long, but it didn’t suddenly get difficult or dreary. Sure, once I came back to earth a little, I discovered that on occasion I’ll end up feeling down and all of those other less than amazing feelings that are part and parcel of being a human being, but it’s still not the hard slog that was described to me.

So you have those who at least seem to have effected that change in their thinking and genuinely no longer want to drink. But then you also have the people who clearly still do and therefore are desperate to moderate and really seem down about it all, and no wonder. No amount of will power and no amount of AA meetings and AA friends will help diddly squat if you still view alcohol as something that provides any kind of positive attribute. Only when you truly see alcohol for what it is and what it does for you personally do you have a chance – this is my absolute belief. Actually, I should rephrase “what it does for you” – only when you truly see what alcohol FAILS to do for you do you have a chance. Again, however, I can only speak for myself but this was what kept me firmly trapped. I held on to the belief that alcohol could do for me what it seems to do for non-alcoholics and wanted it to be part of my life too as a little golden edge, as we say in Sweden. Guldkant på tillvaron – adding a golden edge to life (roughly translated anyway) – that’s how I saw it and what I believed it could be. I saw booze as glitter you pour on to life to enhance and accentuate its brilliance. I’d see friends enjoy a couple of beers, laugh and enjoy the evening, and I wanted that too. Only I can’t because with the first something in me comes to life and this is ironic in the extreme because the thing that comes to life wants me dead. For me booze isn’t glitter – it’s napalm.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone can ever be in control of alcohol but I will concede that there are some of us – those of us who are alcoholics – who fare especially badly if we drink. I certainly don’t need to do any more “research” to establish that I can’t drink alcohol!

Anyway, even regardless of how long ago we made a decision to live a better life, there seems to be two distinct camps: those who punch the sky in a winner’s gesture because they truly feel drinking is pointless and they are free, and those who still yearn for that drink and feel miserable because each day is a fight to be sober. The more I learn about alcohol and addiction, the clearer it becomes that so long as we feel we have a reason to drink and that alcohol will give us some sort of benefit we will find it a miserable sacrifice to stop drinking. And that’s the bottom line for me – I reached a point where I truly felt I no longer had to. The truth was staring me in the face and I knew that booze only ever lands me in a stinking pile of shit. No glitter in sight, for me it was all an illusion and a pack of sweet lies that alcohol had me believing for the longest time. So stopping drinking for me is – so far at least – freedom. Refraining from doing something you no longer want to do isn’t hard at all, is it? I think I wrote earlier on in my sobriety that drinking seemed about as appealing as eating a pile of dog shit, and it is still true. At the same time I know how sneaky, cunning and baffling alcohol addiction is so there is no part of me that feels I can ever declare myself safe. In that sense, yes, it’s a day at a time, but it’s not a struggle in the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of way either. It just is. It’s life.

Right. Bit of a waffle but Wednesday is never my best day.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Elton John and the Hardest Word

Monday! I started by applying for a job with an addiction centre that hubby had happened across somehow. I just know I can be of much more use in a role I actually really care about because it’s closer to my heart. Or very close to my heart, full stop. I’m also in touch with an addiction charity as another way in would be to volunteer, but given I don’t have a money tree in the garden to pick shiny, new £50 notes off, the paid option would be much more viable. Or viable, full stop.

Got up early today. Hubby was leaving for Amsterdam and had to get out of bed at 4am and whilst I snoozed when he was in the shower, I found myself being unable to get back to sleep and got up just minutes after he left. By 6am I was showered, dressed and ready so spent the morning on the sofa drinking coffee and reading the news about the Swedish election. And so now, at 10.24, it feels like the afternoon and I’m a little spaced. In a really good mood though! Hold up….. Oh, hell no, not THAT again. You know, I’m so aware of it that even on a day like this when I actually feel really confident I won’t drink and don’t have the slightest little urge to do so, I am still conscious of the worry hubby might feel. Like this morning on my way in. I went to Sainsbury’s and picked up my usual smoothie and a couple of pretzels, carbs and fruit sugar to keep me fuelled up until the afternoon. Noticed they also had my favourite beef jerky – sweet and hot – and because they always run out, I picked up the whole lot. Nine bags. It all came to £21-something. And I almost felt a need to let hubby know exactly what I’d bought, because I wonder what his first thought would be otherwise seeing that transaction on a day he’s not going to be home. 20-odd quid would also be what a box of wine, a bottle of soda and some Dioralyte would set me back.

It’s the kind of transaction that sets off warning bells and I should know because I’m a cunning alkie who would – if I were indeed getting booze – prefer to pay cash and thereby be more likely to get away with it given the bank statement wouldn’t have quite so many damning entries on it. Or perhaps hubby doesn’t register these things at all and it’s just me who is really aware of it because I used to take such care and go to such lengths to disguise what I was up to. After all, when I talk to the people around me it’s rarely the things I thought they noticed that they tell me about now. Bullock, for example, didn’t at all reflect over how I drank two large glasses of wine when she drank one (which is the bit I remember stressing over and wanted to find a way around) but instead wondered why I was so keen to get rid of her when we left the pub (I didn’t want her to see that I was getting wine to drink at home). So who knows.

If I were to take a photo of my bag full of beef jerky and send to him, he’d probably feel bad for me and tell me I don’t need to do that. But I also don’t want him to worry. How do you fill the people who love you and worry about you with confidence after a life hiding, sneaking around, down-playing and lying about your drinking? It would seem this, like so much else, will take time. And to be fair, it makes me feel safe that everyone around me knows.

It’s a different feeling when you say goodbye to your friends at the pub and they have no idea you’re not heading home and going to bed like they are. Well, you are, but you’re making a stop to get more booze first and you can only pray that blacked-out you end up in bed at some point not too far north of midnight if there’s work the next day. It’s a helpless and hopeless spot to be in, to stand there and say goodnight to friends when they don’t know this, wanting to ask for help but not knowing how. It’s fucking heartbreaking to walk off from your friends, with urgency in your steps towards your own destruction, quite literally death defying determination to do something you actually don’t want to do but can’t stop yourself from doing. I can’t even begin to tell you how frightening that is, to feel the excitement at getting away to get drinking for real after the social warm-up at the same time as you’re filled with sorrow, fear and desperation, and wishing as you’re blinking back the tears that you could just say that one little word – help. Elton John, talented as he is, has it all wrong – ‘sorry’ isn’t the hardest word at all, ‘help’ is. Ask any addict.

But I did ask for help. FINALLY. After years of being scared I eventually ended up being so terrified I had no other choice but to reach out. And thankfully they all listened. Hubby, my friends and family – and let’s not forget the friends I’ve made e.g. via AA and This Naked Mind groups – form a safety net. I don’t even need them to do anything, not so far anyway, it’s just the security and safety I feel in them knowing. Alcohol is of course FURIOUS with me for snitching to everyone, because it’s harder to control me and abuse me when it’s no longer “our little secret”. For me, alcoholism has been exactly like an abusive relationship – your abuser always wants to isolate you and that’s what alcohol does too. Harder now when everyone around me know what’s up – hell, I’ve made it really difficult for myself to fall back and it’d get ever so awkward and difficult with all the questions! Well – that was really my intention anyway, to put down anchors and build walls before I get to a stage (if we ever truly do, that is) where I feel totally confident I’ll never drink again.

Yup, it’s tough shit, but here’s the good news, and I say this to all of you who may still be summoning up all your might and speak that little word – just short of eight months in, still quite new to fitness and still figuring out how to live life on life’s terms, I already have too much to lose. Life, already, has turned too magnificent to throw away. Last night hubby and I went for a run. Sure, I’m still building up but I ran for 20 minutes and then another couple of bursts of around five minutes each. That’s half an hour! And it’s not long ago that I struggled to keep going for three minutes. It’s still torture, sure, and sometimes I begin to feel overwhelmed doing this thing called living, but fuck me is it all worth it!

It’s important to remember though, that I had all of this before I sank into alcoholism on a big scale. The morning coffee would have tasted great, running would have felt awesome and my friends and family were as wonderful then as they are now, so it’s not like realising all these things now is suddenly a guarantee that I won’t drink again. I did it before, remember? I threw precisely all of that away. But maybe now, after wrecking myself the way I did with drinking, these are no longer things I take for granted and that’s why my morning coffee is enough to make me lyrical and beginning to feel physically strong gets me tearful with gratitude. This, I need to remember, if I get to a point where I just take it for granted again. Right now though, in this moment, it’s extraordinary to me that I find myself here – sober and counting all these blessings – and I don’t want to give it up again. For what? What good did drinking ever do for me? Uhm… Not a fucking thing.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Cowboys on a Bender

The question of moderation came up in a recent discussion. I am an alcoholic so needless to say the ability to moderate drinking is to me the holy grail. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I envy those of you who can enjoy that beer with friends down by the river on a summer’s eve, perhaps have another two or three, get a little giggly and silly and then wander home after enjoying a lovely evening like that. I mean, wander home and that’s THAT. Because I could of course join you, I could even (but not without effort, I hasten to add – you guys drink infuriatingly slowly) drink at the same pace and have the same number of drinks and laugh with you as we sit there watching the river flow by on its journey back to low tide, leaving the walk path wet in that little dip between the pub and that fancy big house someone just renovated where it always flows over its banks when the tide is high. Risky spot, their home insurance must be astronomical. And when you wander home and the evening is over, leaving our empty glasses behind, I make a stop at the off licence and buy at least one, but probably two, bottles of wine and take myself from pleasantly tipsy to roaring drunk and eventually unconscious once I’m back home. I don’t have that off switch, see.

For me, moderation doesn’t work. Actually, for me it doesn’t bloody exist. And I would go as far as to suggest moderation, whether you’re an addict or otherwise, is a myth. It doesn’t exist for those of you who aren’t alcoholics or addicts any more than it does for those of us who are. And how can I say this? What leap of utter lunacy has landed me at such an outrageous conclusion?

Well.

How about I said this to you: “I eat carrots in moderation.

Are those the words of someone who has no problem with carrots?!

Exactly. Isn’t that just so dumb??!

If someone said to me that they moderate how many biscuits they eat everyday, I would assume they are either trying to lose weight or ended up having too many if they didn’t keep themselves in check. If there is no problem, why would you need to moderate? That just doesn’t make sense. Someone whose drinking doesn’t spill over into the darkness of addiction and alcoholism NEVER has to consciously think about moderation. Why would you? I can’t imagine non-alkies pour their first drink and repeat in their minds like a mantra I’m-going-to-stop-at-four-drinks. Sure, normal drinkers may – and probably DO! – hear about recommended limits and consciously say no to drinks on a particular day because they went to a party two days before and think about how much and how often they drink, but that’s not the same thing as far as I’m concerned. Also, if I look at e.g. my husband, something happens to him when he’s had a bit too much to drink AND THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME – his body tells him to stop. He feels perhaps a little queasy, maybe lightheaded, even a little bit ill and if he were to force more drink down his neck he might actually throw up. His body goes YUK! Hold up, cowboy! My body (never mind my brain!) doesn’t do that. In my mind and body there is a raging desire, a thirst that can’t be quenched.

Can I also be clear on another thing here? Even when hubby goes on a bender (like on his stag do, during which he got VERY drunk!) the state he ends up in isn’t even near where I get to. I don’t think hubby knows what black-out is or has even been near it. After excessive nights out he might say his memory is a bit hazy but I can almost assure you he won’t have any nights where a solid block of hours are a blank, or a point in the evening after which he has no memory whatsoever. So I actually doubt a non-alkie could get to those stages us alkies get to, I don’t think your bodies would allow you even if you tried. You’d just end up puking in the gutter.

Anyhoo! I can’t speak for any alcoholic other than myself and I certainly can’t speak for non-alcoholics, but I can look at the difference between me and hubby. An alkie and a non-alkie.

Funnily enough, we probably have the first drink for the same reason. Let’s take today, because it’s a stunningly beautiful September Friday and the sun is shining. Come the evening, we’d both have that first drink because we’re happy and it’s the weekend and the wine will sprinkle a bit of additional glitter on our excellent mood. We’re relaxed and happy. Yes, that’s right, even after half a life spent getting wasted, I’ve never – NOT ONCE – poured the first glass of wine hoping I’d end up in black-out, fall over and knock my chin against the dining table and write a bunch of embarrassing nonsense on Facebook. Oblivion is never and has never been the intention when I take the first sip. Or gulp. Fiiiiiine *sigh* let’s be pedantic – the first few greedy, hungry gulps, plural.

The booze does what booze does and it numbs us into that state we take for fun – gets us a little loose and dopey, removes inhibitions and makes us giggly and goofy. I’ll concede that this bit is great fun – how could it not be? And right about here it IS like someone poured a bit of glitter on our already good Friday mood and chills us out even further now that the working week is out of the way.

Difference? For hubby this is now enough, this is the good place to be, and where he might either slow right down or even order a soft drink. He’s good and glittery. And so am I in that brief little moment but that’s not where I stay. For me….. I was searching my mind just then to work out how I can accurately describe it to you, and the image that comes to me is of a massive, furious, black tornado tearing across the plains in my direction – I’m directly in its path and it rips me away, throws and spins me mercilessly into a centrifuge of hell. That glittery feeling? That’s sort of like the train whistle when you hear it in the distance like an ominous warning echoing in the distance before the train comes roaring in. That’s all it is and it’s almost as brief. Or the spot where winds and temperatures form a terrifying force of nature. It does for hubby exactly what you see in booze commercials and he can appreciate the carefully selected wine that enhances his meal, whereas for me the damn steak I only eat because I have to and the wine could be fucking urine for all I care so long as I can keep drinking and go faster and faster until I know no more.

tornado

Moderation – I will have to ask hubby now, but I don’t think he would during an evening like the one I describe make a conscious choice to stop at a specific number of drinks. I think it just happens, that he just feels it’s enough and has no need to drink more, let alone faster and faster. When I have alcohol free beer I sometimes wonder if this is how non-alcoholics feel. I do, even now, take a few greedy gulps of the first one – I honestly do! And then quite quickly a few more. I am a bit thirsty, see, and the beer tastes so good! (Heineken 0.0 and Becks Blue are my favourites along with my absolute number one Birra Moretti Zero – yum!). The second, now that my thirst is quenched, is a lot slower and although it tastes just as nice, I’m now good. I may, but probably won’t, have a third. There is no need and the choice is all mine and I can do that thing I have never, ever been able to do with alcohol: I can take it or leave it! It isn’t important to me and if I ran out of beer it wouldn’t make me panic because I can have a glass of water if I’m thirsty.

I’ve started working out and I’m getting back in to running as well. Hubby has consistently always kept up with his fitness, but claims he’s put on a few pounds over the summer so wants to up his game a little. The other day he said he’s cutting back on things that typically make you gain weight and beer is of course one. But so are biscuits, chocolate and carb heavy meals, so he’s also cutting back on all of those things. This is of course conscious moderation but I maintain that this is very different from trying to moderate one specific thing. There is a difference between making adjustments to achieve a goal (cut calories to slim down, cut caffeine to sleep better, spend less to save up for something, etc etc…) and moderating something because we can’t control it or it causes terrible consequences. Hubby is just moderating things to lose a bit of weight and is possibly also a little spurred on by wifey who is suddenly working quite hard to get in shape. Like the other day when someone wore a pair of trousers that looked really good, I asked what brand they were. Sometimes those around us inspire us to follow suit. Hubby has, as I mentioned, always been into fitness so of course he’ll possibly feel a bit energised when his wife gets going. We are always affected and influenced to a greater or lesser degree by those around us, and when I drank, hubby ended up drinking more than he normally would too. Almost inevitable, I think.

But we were talking about moderation. Which I think is a pile of bullshit, but keen to hear your views. In particular I’d love to know if there has EVER been an alcoholic who learned to moderate and went on to drink like a non-alcoholic, with an off switch.

Does any of that make sense? Do you know what I mean when I outline my little theory on how moderation is a myth? Or perhaps I should say that for me, Anna the alcoholic, moderation is a myth because 1) those who would need it can’t do it, and 2) those who don’t need it….. …uhm… ..don’t fucking need it anyway!

Today I’m not going to drink.

Beats and Board Roles

You know when something happens at the right time? When you randomly happen to perhaps read something that is exactly what you need at that precise time? This morning someone on This Naked Mind Facebook group put up screen grabs showing the dramatic change to her resting heart rate now that she is alcohol free (or “AF” as everyone in the group puts it – I see that and think “As Fuck” but I’m getting used to it). It’s stuff like this that really brings it home how alcohol really does wreck our health. And no, I am not referring to you lucky lot who can enjoy it in a manner that can be considered normal, although in all fairness if you guys did cut alcohol out there’d probably be a little improvement in heart health for you too! In only a couple of months, this lady’s resting heart rate had gone from 66 beats per minute to 58! Given my night of palpitations and how my heart was on my mind, this was very well timed.

I do wonder now how my own heart health has improved. It obviously has, I know that, because I no longer experience palpitations during the day like I used to and only very rarely at night. It’s happened on one or two occasions, but still you can’t compare it to how I used to be when I was drinking. It would be so cool to see the graph tracking my heart then and now like this woman could though. See a line over the weeks and months showing how her heart is now so much happier.

If only I’d been able to stick to something, but that was of course the one thing boozing didn’t allow me to do. I’ll say it again: being a drunk is a full time job. It’s like with any other job really, only this one will eventually take over your whole life – it is quite literally the job you have to sacrifice everything else for: interests, friends, family, etc. You just cannot commit to anything else because alcohol demands ALL of you. You might be able to take up a hobby for a while, but you can never give it much time because, well, you already have your work duties to take care of, and using this metaphor those duties consist of ensuring there is a supply of alcohol you then consume in order to get yourself unconscious. How’s that for a career, eh? Perhaps I wasn’t the Oprah Winfrey of boozing, but I was definitely at CEO level with a bunch of non-executive board roles on my CV too – easy. The dedication us drunks demonstrate when it comes to drinking is astonishing and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that if I’d shown the same determination in a different career I may very well have gone pretty far because if you work as hard as I did to drink you almost can’t fail – trust me. I’d suggest this is true for any drunk worth their salt because being an alcoholic requires unyielding, relentless, hard graft.

But when I drank, drinking was of course – as it tends to be when you’re an alcoholic – my main mission whether I realised it at the time or not, and I simply therefore had no capacity or room for anything else. This includes continuing to use the fitness watch I got a couple of summers ago, and for that reason I don’t now have a record of how my resting heart rate might have changed like this lady on the Facebook group. Bit of a shame because it’d be really nice to see actually! As I said, I already KNOW that my whole freaking body is thanking me and given this heart of mine is in said body, I also know it feels better than it used to when I was keeping the vineyards of Marlborough New Zealand in business. Hm, perhaps now that I’m on such a good track I need to start wearing that watch again (especially as there are now runs and workouts to track too!) and use it to highlight how much good I’m doing myself now. Shame, it would have been good to see it in black and white, just like it’s good to see the selfies taken at each month milestone, but there we are. It’s not crucial, just sometimes nice to see hard evidence that confirms something you already know.

Sobriety – I hope – will now allow me freedom to not only pursue but also stick with all these good things, whatever they may be. I also hope that I will always be mindful of how my heart is happier now even though I don’t have any graphs to show the difference, but having said that, perhaps the palpitations I had the other night have the same purpose as those nightmares I now have sometimes – on occasion I’ve dreamt that I’m drinking again. Then I wake up and in that first second of disorientation I still have the horrible feeling of defeat of the dream but then realise it wasn’t real. Waking up from a dream like that gives me all this renewed hope and strength that I will remain sober.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Sandra Bullock’s Smile

It’s interesting – almost intriguing – for me to hear from those around me what they did see or notice when I was drinking. I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time Friday. I’m going to call her Bullock because she resembles Sandra Bullock quite a lot and for a long time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who she reminded me of but then it dawned on me that she has the exact same features as that wonderful actress. Anyway. We were both going to the gym Friday morning (I work every other day when the people I work for are away so Friday was a day off) and decided to meet up afterwards for some light lunch and coffee. I’ve not seen Bullock since before I quit drinking. We don’t know each other that well but if feels like we do – perhaps it’s because we’re both immigrants and have our native Sweden in common that has meant there is an immediate connection, I don’t know. She’s one of those real salt of the earth people, perhaps that’s why I always liked her so much. Natural, open, genuine – you know, the sort of qualities you’d list as desirable traits in friends.

I mentioned the gym? Can you tell I feel ever so smug and virtuous? I do. I feel like super woman! I still have a few sessions left with Dimples but have now officially signed up with the lycra inferno just down the road, the same gym that hubby goes to, and Friday before meeting with Bullock I had the free PT session they give you when you part with your bank details. A young stack of muscle mass took me through a bunch of stuff but I missed Dimples. Unfair, I know, because you’re never going to have the same quality of instruction in a gym as you do when you have a PT focused on you, the whole you and nothing but you. I shouldn’t complain, and how much fun would it have been for a dude half my age trying to come up with some exercises for an old drunk? He did seem quite amused but at least he didn’t try to make me do burpees.

Yes, I am feeling VERY happy about this life decision of mine to get fit, healthy and strong. And so obviously I’m keen to talk about it, and especially so when Bullock herself had been to the gym Friday morning. It just didn’t seem right to just say I’ve decided to get fit – even though of course that IS true. It doesn’t tell the whole story. So we chatted away about getting into fitness for a while.

It’s been a strange year, in a good way,” I told her, stirring my coffee as I paused and wondered if there is no other way to drop the A-bomb than dropping it and realised there isn’t, “I quit drinking alcohol, which is a biggie for me.

That’s great,” Bullock said and smiled her identical-to-Sandra-Bullock smile, “what made you decide that?

Spit it out, Anna. What are you going to say, girl? The truth or some half baked nonsense about a health kick? Come on, now! Big girl pants pulled up, now go!

I’m an alcoholic.

Excuse me?

I’m an alcoholic,” I repeated and smiled.

Huh?” Bullock went and leaned a little closer, perhaps her hearing is as terrible as mine but in that cafe the acoustics are terrible so it’s probably hard to hear anyway.

I’m an AL-CO-HO-LIC,” I said and emphasised each syllable.

Oh,” Bullock replied, looked at me and smiled, “wow, I didn’t know that.

Well, how could she? Again I was met with the same response I’ve had over and over and over – kindness, sometimes a bit of surprise and interest. It was quite literally as though I’d just told her I have a bit of a cold – the experssion on her face was friendly concern. Just a statement of fact that didn’t warrant a huge reaction, just an acknowledgment that it’s serious but not met with a shock horror reaction. And then Bullock told me, equally matter-of-factly, about a battle of hers.

It’s funny, isn’t it?” she mused, “You just never know what people go through or who hides what.

True. You wouldn’t know from looking at Bullock that she fought the battle she told me about. It just goes to show how democratic these things are. And it makes me think of the tattoo someone in my family told me they’d get – a tattoo of a tree with a deep set of roots to illustrate how you don’t know what’s underneath given you just see the tree and not its roots.

You know, I was thinking about the last time we saw each other on my way here and wondered if you noticed at the time,” I said.

The last time we met up was at the pub and I was so aware of it at the time, just like I always was when I drank socially. I ordered a large glass of wine, Bullock ordered a small one. And then I ordered another when she was still working on hers. A large glass of wine in the UK is 250ml, a small 125ml. So I had four times the amount she did that time and remember feeling funny about it, as I always did in those situations. I’ll say it again – it’s no fun drinking with non-alkies when you’re an alkie, it’s fucking hard work and fills you with anxiety and stress.

No, I don’t remember thinking that,” Bullock told me inbetween mouthfuls of her eggs on toast, “but I did wonder what was going on when you were so keen for me to leave when you needed to pop in to the shop afterwards.

Lightbulb. THAT part I’d forgotten all about but suddenly remembered when she mentioned it. Yes, I needed to get a box of wine and I didn’t want her to see. And I remember her being hard to get rid of as we were both heading in the same direction home from the high street. I kept trying to say goodbye and Bullock kept saying she didn’t mind waiting when I popped in to get whatever I needed to get.

I remember now,” I said, winced at the shame of it and chuckled, “I needed to get wine and didn’t want you to know.

That makes sense now,” Bullock agreed, “it did seem like you didn’t want me to see what you were buying but I just didn’t understand what it was all about.

So she’d noticed something was off but not the bit I thought she may have paid attention to. It’s both interesting and cringe worthy to talk openly about these things now. The good thing about it is that I can now explain to people around me what was at the root of my strange behaviour. Like my sister-in-law M when we had the conversation and she could tell me what they’d seen, thought and suspected. It’s a weight off my shoulders, not only that I no longer have to drink but more importantly that I no longer have to hide, sneak around, manipulate and lie. Thank God for that, because it doesn’t feel good to do any of those things.

Has anyone else had these conversations with friends and/or family? Open discussions about what was going on and how it felt and was perceived for you and for them?

Today I’m not going to drink.

A String of Gems and Hope

It really feels like the last week of summer, and I suppose it is. There has been a definite turn in the weather and now with the August Bank Holiday weekend and Notting Hill carnival behind us, autumn is right on the doorstep. This is fine by me – I love autumn. Over sized scarves and sweaters, dark evenings, candle light and hot drinks spiced with cinnamon. Hah! That last bit was interesting as I suppose I would normally have mentioned mulled wine and had to think for a second there about what I might be drinking this first sober autumn I have ahead of me. Well. There’s alcohol free mulled wine should I feel like it, but I suspect as with regular wine I won’t be interested in the alcohol free version. Yep, summer is over and it’s a grey Tuesday here in London with the temperature just nudging 20 degrees. No more tank tops and shorts – it’s back to long sleeves and jeans.

But what a summer! Actually – what a YEAR it’s been so far, and I still have my favourite season and Christmas to look forward to!

2018 started off the way my years normally do: with a severe hangover. Some years I’ve attempted a dry January (and to be fair, mostly managed just fine) but this year I didn’t even consider it. Monday 22nd January I called in sick because I was so hungover I couldn’t move. That evening I acknowledged I was in serious trouble and finally reached out to my husband and spelled it out: I AM AN ALCOHOLIC, I CAN’T GO ON LIKE THIS AND I AM FRIGHTENED. 23rd January my decision was made – I knew I wanted and needed to get sober and sort my life out. And I’ve done my best. I’ve not done a perfect job but where I am compared with where I was going is a miracle. (Oh, I bloody HATE it when sober folk yap on about miracles but this is probably why. No two ways about it – the way I drank and the sheer quantities of wine I put away amounted to “suicidal drinking”. Yes, that’s a thing). So whilst the year did begin with monstrous drinking, I gave myself the best gift: sobriety and a shot at life again.

And 2018 has been a string of magical gems that I have been present for: Ronnie Scott’s, friends over from Sweden, Paris, Foo Fighters in Gothenburg, the Mighty Hike, Lipari, Sweden…. Pretty amazing. To just think I initially thought I’d enjoy life less without the chance to poison myself and actively working to shorten my life whilst hurting my loved ones in the process. Yes, it’s madness, it’s all fucking madness.

Yesterday hubby and I went for a walk around the park. I was tired due to the world’s most uncomfortable bed at a little hotel in the Chilterns where I took hubby for a little getaway. But off we went. We did both comment during our walk that we were walking faster than usual. Hubby had a sore back and hasn’t been allowed much exercise so the last time he came with me on a walk was back in July before our holidays. Normally it takes us one hour and 35-37 minutes, around the inner perimeter of the park which is exactly 10k. 1.31! Felt awesome! Walked fast enough to get a tiny bit breathless and sweaty. Must be the work of Dimples and getting back into running – I’m getting stronger! I must be! And make no mistake – I’m getting stronger because I am able to be the person I was always meant to be, and that person loves being active and feeling strong. I don’t know if I agree with Dimples when she says I “look strong” during the exercise sessions but I am absolutely starting to feel it. As it happens she is away for a week so no sessions until next week now, but I have contacted the gym and will be signing up this week so that by the time our last sessions are done I’ll seamlessly be working out solo too.

If you’d told me last year at this point that I would go on to enjoy all these things booze free and then sign up for the gym too, I’m not sure I would have believed you. I would have wanted it to be true, definitely, but I doubt I would have had the courage to actually believe it. Hopelessness in the face of alcoholism would have made it all seem so far fetched. Like a utopia, almost. And yet it isn’t. Perhaps I’m not free yet, perhaps I’ll never be fully free but I’ll happily settle for what I have now. My addiction has been forced into a cage and that’s amazing, but I’ll just have to accept that I can’t look away for too long because the cage has no lock. But I can live with that. If that’s as free as I can ever get, it’s still a win.

Progress, not perfection, as they say. But this IS perfection as far as I’m concerned. Every last minute that I’m sober is perfection.

Today I’m not going to drink.

A Self Centered Pity Party

Holy crap – welcome, folks, to Anxietyville! It’s not a fantastic place to be but is where I have spent much of the past three nights. I’m not letting it get the better of me, and besides, a good mood is my trigger rather than feeling on edge so perhaps I’m safer than ever?

My son has a complicated relationship with his father. I don’t want to go into detail because again I don’t want to put anyone in an awkward situation if this blog ever did wind up in front of people I’m actually writing about and so I want to keep it as anonymous as I can and disguise everyone as best I can, and ideally beyond recognition. At the very least, I don’t want to air anyone else’s dirty laundry, just my own. So, suffice to say it’s been a difficult year and a half during which my heart has ached for Bambino. It would seem they are now finding their way back to each other and whilst this is freaking amazing news, it also fills me with dread because it would take so little for it all to fall apart again. I don’t think my ex-husband would disagree if I do say openly here that I’m not his favourite person and he therefore refuses to speak to me. This is OK, of course, but does make things slightly tricky if we’re now approaching a situation where we are co-parenting again. So anyway, Bambino spent the night at his dad’s for the first time since January 2017 and they had planned quality time together Monday, after which Bambino was meant to come home. I got a text in the afternoon saying he was going to stay another couple of nights.

I really have to rein myself in – this is a good thing! A really GREAT thing, even. But his text had tinges of what didn’t sound like Bambino and I had a real battle on my hands staying calm and telling myself all was well. In the end he did call me and I was reassured he was fine and it was nothing at all like the sinister scenarios that my mind cooked up. Still. My 13-yearold sends brief text messages to inform me he’s not coming home. If he stays the night at a friend’s place I won’t allow him unless I am in touch with the adult(s) in charge. OK, it’s his father, but even so, this doesn’t sit well with me but I guess I just have to suck it up. He’s coming home today, or at least that’s what he told me yesterday, and I do hope this is the start of spending time regularly at his dad’s again. A fractured relationship with a parent can fuck us up endlessly and it’s the last thing I want for my son. Says the alcoholic. But you know what I mean. This is a real test for me and I am doing my very best to let it go, hold back and focus on what’s important here. This I am obviously much better placed to do sober (just imagine what pouring wine on this would be like) and any anxiety I feel is totally irrelevant. I think it’s true what they say in AA, how us alkies are incredibly self centred – Drunk Me certainly is – and this is a fine example of a situation where I have to give myself a slap across the face and grow some balls. This is not about me or how I feel. Not one bit.

Hubby is still away and this morning I really, really missed him when I had my morning coffee. This is our little morning ritual, see. Whoever’s getting in the shower first sticks it on, by the time we’ve both showered it’s brewed and ready and we have our little morning chat on the sofa. It’s not like it’s ever been a case of agreeing to do this, it’s just what we do and this morning when I sat there on my own in my empty home I really wished hubby could have been there.

OK, that’s enough now – I’ve had my pity party, so let’s move on!

I’m really keen to put my drinking to good use. I mean, it did me no good whatsoever, so it’d seem like a waste to have fought as hard as I did to drink for no reason. Yes, being an active alcoholic is really, really tough – I know I’ve said this a hundred times, but I can’t stress it enough – and I have nothing to show for it. What I do have is the gift of sobriety that I intend to hold on to with all I have, and I feel such a strong desire to reach out and help other alcoholics who are still suffering. I know there has to be a place for me there, that perhaps I can just reach that ONE person and show that I know what it’s like to be there but also that there’s a way out. This is something I need to pursue, whilst never losing sight of the work I will have to continue to do myself to remain sober and have the life that I want.

And life really is so amazing when I don’t poison myself. No black-outs that I have to figure out like a detective, no days wasted to crippling hangovers and no alcohol induced anxiety or low moods. Now I’m just my usual delightful hurricane of emotions but sober I can bloody deal with them. Please, never let me lose sight of this, never let me lose my grip.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Jack’s Fractured House

Two posts in a day! See? When I’m ME and full of energy and have a clear mind, I have fucking LOTS to say! This is in spite of what might have turned into a terrible night’s sleep, but it would seem I am actually getting quite good at handling my feelings.

We went to bed as usual and cuddled up with hubby snoozing against my shoulder as I read for a while. The sleep wave came as it normally does when I read and I put my Kindle away, removed my glasses, checked my alarm was set and turned off the light. Snuggled in to warm hubby and that was that. Only it wasn’t. Perhaps it was a bit of anxiety at flying solo when he is away this week coupled in with a tinge of worry over Bambino spending the night at his dad’s given they have a fractured relationship and I wasn’t sure how it would go. Lay awake for a while but realised that my thoughts and emotions weren’t about to slow down, so fumbled in the dark for my glasses and Kindle and my dressing gown and went into the livingroom. And there I stayed, reading on the sofa until I was confident my mind had got back to the appropriate speed limits. And then that really was that and despite it being 1am by the time I came back to bed I did sleep those few hours soundly until my alarm went as usual at 6am. Feel quite proud of that, actually – I just accepted it for what it was (speeding thoughts and emotions) and dealt with it, just read my book until they were done. Yay!

The book I was reading (and finished) was ‘I’ll Stop Tomorrow’ by Paul Campbell, by the way, and I might talk about that some other time. Heavily leaning on AA and its philosophy and it did highlight some stuff I really don’t agree with as well as outline lots of stuff I do, so I’ll come back to it I’m sure.

Did I mention I joined a sobriety Facebook group? Yes I did, it’s the group for The Naked Mind for those who use this as part of their toolkit in getting sober and it’s super interesting to read posts and comments from others who are kicking the booze. There’s a good mixture – you have the alcoholics like me who sank quite far, you have some alcoholics who sank deeper and some who didn’t sink very far at all, you have those who drank “a bit too much” and really the whole register down to those who are only quitting temporarily for a health kick. Today someone asked how much we used to drink before we quit. Now, THAT is a question I am hesitant to answer!

I’ve been open on this blog when it comes to the amounts I used to drink of course, but even here I often hesitate and wonder if it’s such a good idea because I don’t know who you are who’s reading this, much less your situation. What if you’re me of, say, a few years ago? And what if, when I say I drank on average two and a half bottles of wine per day, you look at this and it’s more than you drink? And what if you look at this and take it to mean you don’t have a problem because just LOOK at how much Anna used to drink! I’m nowhere near as bad as that! That must mean I’m Just Fine. Tricky one, isn’t it? So I said exactly that, that I didn’t want to say in case me of yesteryear might see it and deduct she’s absolutely fine when in fact she might not be fine at all? Honesty in all its glory but what if that honesty could cause harm? Then again, whilst my amount of booze might fill one person with comfort that they’re not so bad, it might signal to another that oh shit, I drink more than Anna and she feels SHE has a problem. Damn, where does that leave me?! Swings and roundabouts I suppose.

Perhaps this is only interesting for me but it made me think about whether I spill all the beans, and when and where it is safe to do so. It’d be really shitty if I was the reason a budding alcoholic sank much further, so if you are me of yesteryear can I just say this: if you regularly drink more than you intended and find you can’t stop once you take that first drink…. Well…. I think we all deep down know when our drinking is a problem, a developing problem or anything else that isn’t quite “normal” but if that does apply to you, then perhaps have a little.. ….THINK, as Aretha Franklin puts it. And may she rest in peace – what a sad loss for the world but nowhere near as tragic as those amazing talents who left us too soon because booze and drugs. Sweet Lord, I am really preaching today!

I have two Aretha Franklin songs on the playlist I’ve put together for running. ‘Think’ is indeed one but this is my favourite, I can’t get enough of it – if I am at home I can’t stop myself from singing along and dancing and if I’m out on a run it puts a spring in my step:

Thoughts and emotions are welcome here and today I’m not going to drink.

Guerrilla Tactics

It’s a beautiful Monday morning and London seems to be going in to that seam between summer and autumn with a freshness to the air that feels so good after the humidity of the past months. Still humid and a little muggy and I sweated a freaking ocean on my run yesterday. When I say ‘run’ I refer to the total of 12 minutes I actually jogged. Have a 10k app that is supposed to get me up to speed again. Or not speed perhaps, just get me to a state where I can chug along 10k without having to stop jogging and walk. All in good time. But yes, a gloriously beautiful morning here.

You could say that where I am right now is like the scene from Jaws, think it’s the first one with that woman swimming along and you hear the ominous music that signals the approach of Sharkie-doo with the camera shot zooming in on her from deep in the water below:

  1. Beautiful day.
  2. I feel rested, content and happy.
  3. Add feeling of additional physical wellness due to PT sessions and getting back into running.
  4. I have tomorrow off – albeit standard August procedure, not my Drunkard’s Planning.
  5. Hubby is at Heathrow about to board a flight to the States.

jaws

Oh yeah, I’m that chick in the water and Sharkie-doodle-doo is lurking in the depths below. Do I trust in strength I want to believe I have? Or do I ask for help? I didn’t fucking plan to develop alcoholism! If it had been part of the plan I wouldn’t have moved abroad, because right about now it would be really good to speak the following words:

  1. Hey Mum, I’m OK so don’t worry, but today is a tight spot for me so I’m staying with you for a few days until hubby’s back. 
  2. Dad! How’s it going? Let’s go moose spotting and don’t drop me home until after 11pm because I’ll never want to start drinking that late. 
  3. Hi there brother D, I’m sorry to do this to you but I’m not home dry yet so I’m going to camp out in your spare room. Thanks. 
  4. Cherokee, I feel a tad wobbly so would you mind babysitting me? Yep, I know, ridiculous but all I need is just your presence and we’ll have a nice time I promise.

Well. Those luxuries are far away and so I’ll just have to make do with the anchors I do have and I feel cautiously confident it’ll be fine. There are people I can reach out to here too should I need it, but it never hurts to have a plan and I do. Groceries arrive between 3 and 4pm (can’t be drunk). Window man is over at 5pm to measure everything up (can’t be bloody pissed for that, now can I?). Going for a 10k walk (not possible even with the THOUGHT of booze in my head because the only place I’ll walk then is the fucking store).

The heaviest anchor is Bambino, who is arriving back today after staying at his dad’s last night. I’ve been as open as I can with him and have explained everything except the A-word and just a couple of days ago I received a hug from him with the words “you’re doing well, Mum, I’m proud of you“. It was after I’d been for a gym session and walked back in, and I can promise you that he wasn’t referring to how many squats I’d done. My kid is over-joyed because I’ve quit drinking – if I then decide to take up knitting or train spotting he doesn’t give a honking hoot about. I don’t even think he’d care if I decided to join the circus so long as I’m sober. He might not spell it out but it was me quitting drinking that he meant and nothing else. In a way that makes me want to punch myself in the face. No 13-yearold should ever have to tell their goddamn parent they’re proud of them for not getting smashed on a daily basis anymore. But there we are, I can’t change any of that now, but what I can do is continue to show my boy that I want to be the best I can be and that I’m working hard at this. For all my failures and everything I’ve fucked up, this is my little chance to show him I can do and be better. Not even this rotten drunk would get drunk in front of Bambino now. Not behind his back either. Never again. For such a skinny little twig he is the heaviest anchor of them all.

I’ll be honest, there is no ping! in my head. I’ve felt like this every time hubby’s been away though. We talked about it last night, how I’ve felt a bit vulnerable each time he’s gone away with work but how it’s been fine in the end. Reality has never lived up to my worries beforehand. It rarely does, right? Perhaps it’s a good thing though, to worry like this? I’m going to see it that way I think, that it’s positive that I’m aware of the fact that this is really my weakest point – solitude and a good mood – and I’m just getting myself a little worked up but that the sense of vulnerability is actually serving me well. The Beast doesn’t fight fair, it’s all guerrilla and surprise tactics, but it’s always harder for it to get me when I’m anticipating an attack. The Beast would be much more likely to get me when I don’t expect it. See? I’ve got this.

I’ve been nervous before when hubby’s gone but when push has come to shove it’s actually been fine. That’s the thing with worrying. Like when I have to have a needle. It’s the size of Burj Khalifa in my head but then turns out it’s no big deal at all. Someone said that worrying is like a rocking chair: it’ll keep you occupied but won’t get you anywhere. Well, that makes worrying seem really pointless, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that when it comes to alcoholism it’s actually another tool. OK, hopefully I’ll always discover that hey, I was fine in the end and any worry I felt was totally needless, but better that than getting ambushed by a monster that doesn’t play fair.

There’s one thing I’m really determined to get right, and again hubby and I spoke about it last night. As much as it’s OK to need those around you, I can’t bloody make my sobriety hang on other people. Hubby is my bestie and I have this whole army of amazing friends and a kick-ass family, but THIS IS MY FIGHT. They can come watch and they can cheer me on and even wipe my brow and hand me a bottle of water, but I can’t remove my gloves or flee from the ring if they leave the arena. I have to keep fighting even when the whole crowd is cheering on my opponent. Go Sauvignon Blanc! Finish her! Even then I have to fight. So me being sober today has to come from me. I have to focus on that I don’t want to drink and not worry because I’m flying solo for a few short days. No, I can’t go and stay at Mum’s, nor can I have a babysitter. I just have to pull on my big girl pants and show who’s boss.

Most of all, I’m reminding myself why I don’t want to drink. I’m forcing myself to in my head list positive things that drinking would bring – there aren’t any, only lots of bad shit. Nothing else.

I’ve got this.

Today I’m not going to drink.

On the Other Side of the River

I’ve got this feeling, inside my bones…. Timberlake has put it very well and the song may as well be the soundtrack. Kind of in the background a little initially but it’s right there even from early in the day, and when I give the feeling a bit of attention it intensifies and makes me happy. Work is frustrating because I just want it out of the way. I know the exact route and the journey itself is almost half the excitement. Just thinking about the journey is exciting and fills me with impatience – come on, TODAY, pass! When I can finally leave work I am in a goddamn excellent mood and hop into my little car. I tootle down along the fields, the scenic route with protected views of the river – yes, it’s so beautiful it’s a protected area, this little patch of London – then a left across the bridge. By now I’m humming along, because I’ve REALLY got this feeling. Yes, inside my bones. Oh, it’s is all encompassing and all consuming. There is nothing else. I have no time or energy for anything else.

On the other side of the river now, approaching the traffic lights where I turn right into the High Street. I’ve got that sunshine in my pocket…. This feeling is not even worth trying to fight and by now I am no longer in charge of my limbs as I just dance, dance, dance… I grab a coconut water as I walk past the chilled section because I have it in my head that this contains potassium, which is good to have when you poison yourself. If it happens to be somewhere on my route where I immediately can see and grab it without stopping (let alone having to look for it) I grab a box of Dioralyte too for rehydration. Nowhere to hide when I’m getting you close and I round the corner to the left and grab a bottle of soda water from the shelves on the right without stopping – I’m on autopilot and I could find my way around this store blindfolded. My movements are fluid and I don’t skip a beat, I’d probably look quite good in some sort of musical just about now. And then another left and I almost skip around that corner. Chilled booze to my right but I don’t like having three glass bottles that clink together and betray my mission to the world, and I glance lovingly down to my left. “Sainsbury’s Own” – which means the supermarket chain’s own, shitty brand – Soave. A neat little box that holds three bottles without any of the annoying, treacherous fucking clinking! Cheap, dry, white plonk. Fairly pleasant and even more so when diluted with a bit of fizz from the soda when we move, well, you already know

My shame alarm centre registers a signal as I’m in the queue as well as when I hand my basked to the cashier but I push it back and disable it and it disappears anyway when the contents of my basket – a box of wine, a bottle of soda water and a small coconut water container – are placed in the bag. I don’t use the self check-out because when you buy booze you have to get the cashier over anyway to approve the purchase so this is quicker. Out! I’m nearly there!

The five minute drive up the High Street and home consists of me visualising the step process. I tap my fingers on the steering wheel impatiently as I have to stop by the traffic lights. Finally home it’s much like my Sound of Music dance through the supermarket aisles, I don’t even remove my shoes or put down my handbag because there is nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance. Wine box and soda out of the bag, break in to it and fill a regular drinking glass with two thirds wine and a bit of soda and then ice cubes to make it palatable – who wants warm wine? A couple of greedy gulps and I note I’ve swigged a third (was it really a COUPLE of gulps?) so top it up straight away. Phew! NOW I can remove my shoes and with less hurry I put the box and soda and the coconut water in the fridge. Shoes off, bag down, change into trackie bottoms and put my hair up, as if it’d get in the way but heck, I’m not chancing it.

Just us now. Sofa. My phone. Sometimes laptop. And my usual reminder to myself: DON’T PUT ANY SHIT ON FACEBOOK. I sometimes mean to write this on a sheet of paper to put up somewhere I can see and hopefully register it even once I’m in black-out. See, when I go into no man’s land and lose time, I’m no longer me and I don’t even know that person so God knows what they might do. My only way of reaching that chick is by putting up a note. Sometimes she goes and posts stuff on Facebook, other times she’s written toe curlingly embarrassing e-mails and other times I see from the call lists on my phone that she’s had phone conversations too. All a blank to me. Seeing the evidence of the call with name and duration is ALL that I’ll know of it. It could be half an hour of conversation that is a mystery to me. Oh, the amount of times I’ve pretended to remember a conversation, taking cues from whoever and nodding and trying to appear all “oh yes, of course“. But at this stage, I’m still here. The first glass isn’t – except of course those first gulps I take before I do anything else – all that fast. The familiar taste with bubbles fills me with peace. Mm….

My shame alarm centre does send off a signal right around here but I switch it off. Put it away quickly, away with it! Why in God’s name be so negative and pay attention to how sad it is that I’m sitting here with my wine? Alone. On the sofa. With my phone. No, no, no! Best get on with it! I take a good swig and feel the bubbles wash down my throat as I dive into the wine wave, I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops oohhh… Glasses two and three are considerably faster and now I feel really great! Joyful, excited, full of love and enthusiasm. This is where I might text a few people. I’m loving EVERYONE and EVERYTHING now. Or I might even make a few phone calls if I’m reasonably confident I won’t slur – sometimes I slur half way through the first drink (why though?) but usually I’m OK with speech until I’m heading for drink four. Yes, Drunk Me does make calls before black-out sometimes but that’s OK – or less NOT OK – because these texts and calls I can remember and I’m actually IN them. Embarrassing, sure, sometimes, but these are in the grand scheme of things fine. No sweat. I once again remind myself to perhaps put up that note for the stranger in black-out that I can’t otherwise reach but as usual I don’t bother. Or forget. I can’t be sure which.

Hubby is away and texts. I tell him I am having an early night because I don’t want to have that conversation at 10pm when 1) I’ll be fucking hammered out of my skull, and 2) quite likely be in black-out anyway. It’ll just worry him so better if he thinks I went to bed early. Why drag any innocent bystanders into the pool of shame or worse, worry or hurt the ones I love? No, no, no – THAT would be selfish, no?

Glasses four and five are so fast I’m not sure I can accurately account for them. May I remind you these aren’t standard 175ml wine measures? I’m drinking from a full size regular glass which at a guess holds 400ml out of which I’d estimate that at least 300ml is wine. I don’t really know what happens during glass four and five, except I put them away with lightning speed and it goes electric wavy when I turn it on and six and seven are when it’s definitely getting VERY blurry. This is, if I don’t hit black-out (in which case I obviously can’t AT ALL tell you a single fucking thing), when I sit there and have the Drunken Shakes. This isn’t a little tremor and is NOT to be confused with hangover shakes, this is something else altogether. These are jerky, unsteady movements that mainly affect my hands and arms. Arms most of all, they are that pronounced, too big to affect small extremities like fingers. If I sit there slumped like I often do at this point, with the glass in my hand resting against my leg, it takes all my might to not only lift it (and lift it I must) but hold it steady. I often knock it against my face when I get like this. Am I like this in black-out? Does it happen then too? Well, I don’t fucking know, do I? You tell me.

I wake up. Don’t know much. Look around me only moving my eyes. I got drunk, didn’t I? The overpowering feeling of shame and dread finds me immediately and I cringe as I grab my phone, my first point of call when I need to figure out what happened. Speak to anyone? Oh, look, I talked to both of my grandmothers. I push it away and disable the signals from my shame alarm centre – their hearing is bad anyway so if I slurred they probably didn’t notice, right? Anything on Facebook? No, thank God, but I did make comments – oh no, oh fuck no, SEVERAL COMMENTS – on a political post and unless you’re blind drunk yourself it’s very obvious I’ve drink’n’dialled here. Delete. No texts. Safari history… Watched a bit of porn, eh? Classy. I am unsteady and there is no way I can leave the house, good job I’m so organised and already booked the day off. I knew this, see? So now I have a day ahead of feeling anxious, full of dread and so ashamed I have to spend most of it disabling the deafening signals from my shame alarm centre. It’s a day I can’t do anything with. I need to shower at some stage but right now there is no way I can feel confident enough to tackle slippery tiles. I can barely stand as it is. So I don’t.

See how fun it is to be a drunk? It’s glorious, don’t you think?

But that’s not today. That was Drunk Me. This is Sober Me. I’m seeing my snazzy PT this afternoon and despite going for my first run in I don’t know how long yesterday my muscles are feeling good now. Strong even and I’m looking forward to sets of lunges, squats, spinning and whatever else. Date night with hubby, he is booking this time so I only know it’s on the other side of the river. And bambino has a sober mother.

Today I’m not going to drink.