Well, fuck me, look at that – I didn’t quite believe it would happen when I prayed for a sober day but here I am sans hangover on Valentine’s Day, the day after my birthday. I just turned 42 and I don’t think Valentine’s has been a hangover free day since perhaps my mid-teens. If I’d discovered a million in my bank account it wouldn’t have made me feel better than I do right now. That’s right – if someone offered me a million to have a drink, I’d choose this and remain well into my overdraft, ta very much, and I guess that goes some way to show that money can’t buy you happiness. Plus if I had that million sitting there in my bank account I’d be too zonked to enjoy it anyway. But this is what I’m feeling Right Now and I’m not so cocky I believe for a second that I’ll feel this way forever. I never drank in the morning anyway so although I would have agreed to do so in exchange for a million, this isn’t a critical time of the day for me. It’s the afternoons that are dangerous territory for me. That and a good mood. But I’m not going to worry about forever. With God’s help (despite still undecided on what ‘God’ means for me – a Santa like man on a cloud? The universe? The feeling I get when I look at my son? God – hahr hahr – knows), today I will not drink and to be honest I deserve to feel a little extra brave after not getting drunk on my birthday – it truly is quite monumental for me. Then again, I’m an alcoholic so really ANY day I spend sober is a bit of a momentous event and I say that with zero irony or need to be dramatic.
Today seems a whole lot less scary after conquering my birthday evening without getting sloshed. Taking the husband out for a fancy dinner and Right Now there is no part of me that dreads not getting to drink. Hmm…. Funny choice of words there – “not GETTING to drink“… My alkie brain at work, folks. It’s still telling me I’m going without, when the fact is that the more accurate way to put it would be “not HAVING to drink“. Because that’s what it is: I don’t have to drink tonight, thank God! That’s just so beautiful. I don’t have to guzzle wine, plunge into black-out after ceasing to be present and enjoying the moment after two or three drinks, then wake tomorrow morning feeling like death and with crippling anxiety try to puzzle the evening together. Perhaps spend a few moments trying to work out where various bruises stem from. Delete a few Facebook posts or cringe at some mortifyingly gushing e-mail I might have sent yet not remember typing a single line of it? Well, my dear alkie brain, isn’t it a shame I won’t GET to do all of that? Poor, poor me.
In my phone there are some new numbers and I’m learning to pick up the phone even though it’s something I really prefer not to do. However, I made up my mind to trust in this program and give myself to it when all of my own attempts and methods for breaking free from drinking failed, and I can only report that it works. It doesn’t just work, it works beautifully.
To be honest, I sat through some meetings slightly skeptical, listening to fellow alcoholics wax lyrical about all the amazing things sobriety has brought them. I mean, beyond “not GETTING to” wreck their lives anymore. People talked of incredible opportunities pretty much landing in their laps, their lives now so fantastic it’s something of a dream. One lady even said how if she saw her own job advertised she’d dismiss it as too brilliant to even apply for yet somehow she is the one who not only does that job but who does it really well. It was all a bit new age mumbo-jumbo to me, this stuff about the universe (or God or whatever) delivering once you took this path. Yet I already see it in my own life. No, I’m still into my overdraft and I’m yet to publish a book, but I am writing! I’m writing every day and I have so much to say – in no small part attributed to how without a hangover I am full of energy, have a clear mind and LOTS to say. Research for the novel I was writing – two books that have sat in my book shelves for over five years – is now underway because I have a mind that is alert and keen enough to absorb it.
For the non-alcoholic it might be amusing to know that my Baby G watch that I love I only wear during the lighter half of the year because before I became sober it was too complicated to read the manual and work out the sequence in which I’d have to press two buttons in order to change it from BST to GMT. I’m not kidding. That’s too much for me to handle when I’m drinking and I’m not referring to when I’m actually mid-binge or shitfaced. You might wonder how I ever managed to stay upright after pouring three bottles of wine down my neck but the actual mystery is how I could function AT ALL with those hangovers. Truth is though that I barely did. I wasn’t there in spirit.
I’m here now though! REALLY here. I am present, I am engaged, I am keen to learn and grow, I feel healthy and strong, I am inspired, I feel motivation and determination, I am so excited about the future, I am grateful and most of all I am full of joy. And all of this because I am sober.
Today I won’t take a drink. Today 12 hours don’t seem so hard. Today even the idea of forever isn’t all that terrifying but I’m not going to worry about that because today is NOW and the rest I will let unfold in its own time.