Hey Sister, You’re Doing Great!

The one thing that remains hard for me to understand is the emphasis on how sobriety is “hard”. How is it hard to wake up with a clear mind, be full of energy and feel a general sense of health and strength? Life trapped in a bottle is infinitely harder, desperately trying to achieve some buzzy warmth that never comes because it simply isn’t there. Not in the first sip and still nowhere to be seen as you approach the bottom of the third bottle. What nonsense. I’m not going to beat myself up and feel stupid, though it would be easy to do so – I mean, how could this pass me by, this gift of feeling so amazingly good and get to wake up each day with the opportunity to make the most of it. I can’t do that with a hangover. All I can do with a hangover is go through the motions and hope I get to the afternoon without fainting because I feel so ill. Instead, all this! Am I going to go for a run? Will I get cracking on a couple of chapters of that novel it now seems I might just freaking write as opposed to occasionally dream about before I’m once again too wasted to care much?

You’d have to be a fool not to grab all of that with both hands, surely? Who in God’s name would choose to crawl into a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, then another and then a third through half of which you black out and then feel like death all of the following day until you once again in the afternoon open one, then another, then a third…. It’s madness. You know, I think I do agree that alcoholism is an illness of the mind more than anything else.  Brainwashing is, as far as I’m concerned, a huge part of it for reasons I’ve previously outlined. And I definitely know that be it mental or physical, I cannot stop drinking when I start. So the answer at this point in time would appear fairly simple: drink and destroy or abstain and live fully. What’s hard about that? What’s so difficult about not putting poison into my body that just renders me quite literally senseless? Turns out the only reasons for drinking aren’t real reasons at all, only stuff I’ve been conditioned to believe.

Looking forward to the rest of the day – meeting up with another AA-friend, I’ll call her Willow for no other reason than that’s what weirdly and randomly popped into my mind. So we’re having a coffee and then heading to a meeting. It’s a meeting where they hand out chips to celebrate milestones of sobriety and I’ll be collecting my chip for being one month sober. Think Sparks is going too. Texted Ivy earlier, she’s a little further into her sobriety than I am but has experienced extreme tiredness lately. My tiredness comes and goes but hers sounds worse so hopefully it’s something that can be easily fixed. Surely it’s normal for strange things to happen in the body after years, even decades, of alcohol abuse.

The most obvious – and possibly most glorious! – difference for me is my sleep. I don’t wake up in the night anymore. I fall asleep easily and quickly and I sleep solidly until my alarm goes, and if it doesn’t I seem to wake up naturally and fully rested ahead of 7am. Honestly, I can’t remember ever feeling so rested or enjoying such quality sleep.

Speaking of sleeping, I’ve had a couple of nightmares and as opposed to many other dreams that rarely make any sense I think these particular dreams are sending me a message because they really illustrate and speak loud and clear of the prison I’ve escaped – I dream that I’m drinking again. In the dream it’s already too late, it begins as I’m already drinking and of course in my case as a drunk it means there is no stopping. It’s horrible. But it’s more than just a dream: it’s a stark reminder of what it was like to drink. The sinking feeling when you’ve got into that first glass of wine and know it’s Fuzz Lightyear from here to oblivion. The bit when you can no longer turn back, which is what the first sip represents for me. I can’t turn from there. It’s something I think of and shudder and I don’t want to be there again. Perhaps it’s Mother Nature’s way of reminding me so that I don’t allow how much I adore being sober to get me to a place where I suddenly am gripped by old brainwash madness and believe “a drink” would enhance the moment or my life in some way. As of now I can’t see it happening, but with everyone I know in AA telling me how hard sobriety is there just HAS to be a huge threat somehow.

I get dreams sometimes about being on airplanes, and I suspect for the same reason I get the dreams about drinking now – I don’t like it and I don’t want to be on a plane any more than I want to be drinking. The glaring difference of course is that flying is VERY unlikely to kill me so that’s a very irrational fear of mine. The fear of drinking is different though –  it’s very rational, very real and an actual threat to my life should I decide to get back to it. Never say never, but I just can’t live life having to feel everything is so freaking hard, so difficult, such a slog. No thanks. And why should I? Why should I stop in my tracks when I feel as great as I do each morning and tell myself to be careful because a good mood is dangerous? Isn’t feeling good Mother Nature’s way of telling me hey sister, you’re doing great!

Hm… I really don’t want any of this to seem like AA-bashing so let’s instead talk about what I consider AA’s greatest strength!  I’ve touched upon before how near impossible it is to try to explain to a non-alcoholic (aka normal person) what being a drunk is truly like. Even when you have a hubby as awesome as mine, it’s sometimes frustrating to try to find new ways of explaining how it’d be easier to wrestle a grizzly bear than stop drinking when I’ve started. Actually, I think hubby gets it but it’d be unfair to assume other people would in the same way as the man I married is exceptional – to call him “one in a million” would be too much of a generalisation as he’s way too awesome compared with anyone who’s only better than 999,999 others. Anyway, I digress.

The most invaluable feature of AA (in my opinion, that is) is the freedom and relief of being amongst people who have the exact same issue with alcohol. People who will chuckle at the idea of “why don’t you just have one” and who all nod and get exactly what you mean when you share stories of the insane things you did in black-out. A non-drunk will never ever understand the absolute panic that ensues when you discover you’re out of wine. AA offers to the alcoholic exactly that and no wonder you encounter such a sense of community and kinship the moment you come in to the rooms. And you tell me where else you may find complete strangers scooping you up and giving you their time, checking up on you more often than your own mother might just to see if you’re OK? It’s nothing short of extraordinary.

So there – I will always recommend and praise AA. I may not agree with all its philosophy but I can (despite a little skepticism here and there) absolutely appreciate its numerous advantages.

Today I won’t drink. I don’t want to! I am removing all the reasons why I might and I guess that’s why sobriety right now feels gentle and sweet, much like a summer’s breeze.

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