Brightly Coloured Feathers

Yippieeeeeeeeeee! Last day ahead of what’s bound to be a wonderful Easter and four whole days off! Cannot wait! No plans – just chill, eat and drink nice stuff. No Sauv for me obviously but contrary to what I believed when I first quit drinking I don’t miss it one bit. Nothing has changed except I feel really, really good and never have to have any day ruined by a crippling hangover. Oh, I’ve got a bit fat due to discovering chocolate and sweets (so THIS is what they were saying all along?!) but reckon I’ll be back to normal soon with all this walking and even if I stay fat that’s OK because I love my walks and I love my life and I sit very comfortably on my fat ass.

So…. Easter. What’s with the chickens and eggs and feathers? I wonder how that happened. So here I am, a Christian, and the elders have instructed me to come up with a way of marking our leader being nailed to a cross and dying a terrible death and then celebrate how he came back to life again. I’ve gone to a top notch PR agency to see what they come up with.

Chickens!” they exclaim, “you need lots of chickens!

OK,” I say and make notes, “what else?

Maybe a hare?” they suggest with a hopeful look on their faces.

Chickens and a hare? How do they go together?” I ask.

What does it matter, it’ll be wonderful! Don’t you want to celebrate your leader coming back to life? I thought you wanted a good celebration and now you doubt the hare?

OK, fine, we’ll have a hare too and we’ll call him the Easter Bunny,” I reply as I scribble away on my notepad. “And how do we really emphasise how the Lord died for our sins?

An Easter egg hunt for the children!” one PR person tells me with a broad smile.

Why eggs?” I ask, a little confused.

Because of all the chickens! They lay eggs!

Oh yeah, the chickens,” I sigh and slap my forehead, “forgot about them. And the kids have to look for the eggs by way of remembering our leader died for our sins?

Don’t worry about the whys or the hows! You have the chickens to lay the eggs and then you pluck their feathers and paint them in bright colours and put them everywhere for decoration, then the hare steals the eggs and hides them so the children have to look for them,” another PR dude explains patiently.

I’m not getting how this has anything to do with crucifixion though?” I ask cautiously and quickly add, “but I’m sure that’s just me being a little daft.

The PR folk exchange glances and whisper a little between them and I feel really daft indeed. After a few more glances and whispers they turn back to me with their best Patient Teacher expressions on their faces.

Just sort out the chickens, will you,” they tell me, “and all will be revealed“.

Fantastic – I’m sure it’ll all make perfect sense! Thank you,” I tell them and feel all happy that it’s turned out so well.

No, seriously – how did it all come about? Although I suspect just like with Christmas, a relatively small proportion of those who celebrate it do so for any religious reasons and the rest of us just appreciate the old dude from Coca Cola commercials and thought Christmas trees and twinkling lights looked better against snow and darkness than it might have on a sunny day on the beach. (Sorry, antipodeans). But isn’t this the case of so much religion or any other philosophy or teaching? It just doesn’t have to make sense – just go ahead and do it, don’t ask questions, blindly believe and you MIGHT find out one day what the answers are and if you don’t it’s because you didn’t believe enough.

As with any “religious” celebration, it is customary to drink lots of alcohol and of course Easter is no exception. And Jesus DID turn water into wine, after all. It’d be rude not to get on the booze to honour him, wouldn’t it? Anyway. Part of me thinks I should sit here and say oh what will I do but I am still, it seems, on the Pink Cloud and this long weekend ahead isn’t impacted in any way on whether I’ll have water, tomato juice or unicorn tears. When am I going to start pining for a glass (or ten, rather – or whatever number will get me to black-out) of Sauvignon Blanc with soda? It hasn’t happened yet and even in moments when I try to look for or remember its appeal I just don’t see it – it would only ruin everything and add nothing good that’d possibly make up for it. Plus, it wouldn’t even taste nice. Funny, I can’t for the life of me understand why I kept drinking for as long as I did. Madness, absolute madness. Or, as we say in Sweden: late shall the sinner wake. BUT, as we say both here and in Sweden: better late than never!

Today I am not going to drink! Happy Easter to you – may it be wonderful no matter how you celebrate it!

Blue Skies

It’s raining today, but that’s OK – I like rain. Ideally I’d be curled up in a wicker chair on my mum’s glass veranda with a mug of Löfbergs Lila coffee and a really great book, but this will do. I’m facing a window so can look out at the rain even if there is no sound of it on to glass panels in here, and I do have coffee albeit instant. Still good though. Speaking of books, I’m quite pissed off! Bought one called the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari at the weekend and couldn’t wait to get stuck into it. I thought it was a true story, about a hot shot lawyer who turned his back on all things materialistic and found a life of serenity and true joy. Turns out it’s a fable! I’m really disappointed. I’m sure the message is the same as it would had it not been fictional, but still. That’ll teach me. I started it last night and I can’t say it’s the greatest work of prose I’ve ever held in my hands, but I’m going to finish it. There’ll be lots of good stuff in there I’m sure so I’ll give it a chance.

I now have three AA chips in my jewellery box: 24 hours, 1 month and 2 months. Yay! Weirdly, collecting the 24-hour one was the most significant. I collected it when I’d been sober over a week, and it was encouraged by Red that I bashfully raised my hand and went to receive it along with a bear hug from the lady who always hands them out. She’s lovely. I’m going to try to chat to her next time I see her, she seems really genuine and she’s always quite funny when she shares. That first chip felt like a commitment, my promise to myself to treat me better, to be kinder to me and look after me so I can happily grow old and not miss out on so much living from now on. It was the symbol of how I now wish to live my life – awake and present in each moment – and how this is now my path. I collected it with a smile at the same time as I in my mind gave Sauvignon Blanc the finger.

Month 1’s chip was nice to collect too, as was month 2’s yesterday – I’m not for a second going to diminish what it means for me to be sober and every chip is going to be a celebration of exactly that. These past two months I’ve felt so HEALTHY! I feel so good each morning after sleeping like a log (I never wake up in the night anymore like I used to), and my morning coffee is enough to make me so happy it makes me giggly (I couldn’t drink coffee with a hangover – which meant morning coffee was rare back then). And those are just very simple things. I’m really just talking about waking up and having coffee but you know you are on the right path when it’s the stuff you might not pay attention to normally that are so wonderful you have to stop in your tracks there and then and allow gratitude to vibrate throughout your being.

Worth celebrating indeed!

A lady I’ve seen a few times was there again last night and this time I did collar her. Well, it felt like I did because she seemed in a rush to leave. As it happens, I’ve written about her before, when at this Tuesday meeting a while back she was sharing how she was worried about going to Paris and how she feared she’d end up drinking. I really felt for her and was kicking myself for not seeking her out that time when my gut instinct had been telling me loud and clear to reach out, that even if I’m getting everything wrong I might still be able to say something that’ll make her feel a little better. At the time I was firmly on the Pink Cloud and feeling the opposite to what she was describing, only experiencing excitement at travelling now that I won’t ruin it by getting wasted, and I had wanted to reach out and see if I could have supported her somehow. Stupidly I didn’t, my shyness got the better of me, and I don’t know if she ended up drinking in Paris or not. What I do know is that she picked up her 2-month chip that evening and I picked up my 1-month chip. Last night she picked up the 24-hour chip. So I don’t know if it was anything to do with Paris but she slipped and had gone on a bender at the weekend. You could tell she was gutted and angry with herself. Powerless, I suppose.

Either way, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again so placed myself right in her path and asked how she was. I pretty much forced my number on her, told her I’m new-ish too and that I’m still fumbling around and trying to figure all this out. She did text me to say she’s in the same area and would love a coffee. I told her she can always reach out and that I’ll never judge if she slips as how next time it could be me. I don’t actually believe I’ll slip but I’m also not God so don’t know what the future holds and best therefore be at least a LITTLE humble. Anyway. Let’s call her Blue because her eyes are that bright, light blue colour of the sky when it’s -20C. I already know she finds this AA thing a lonely experience and isn’t it funny how the one who went on a bender just a few days ago is someone I can relate to more than someone who’s been sober for years but lives in fear? Disapproval and no more approaches if you don’t go to meetings everyday. Sparks wrote her off, for one – told me in that meeting just over a month ago that “oh, she’s probably already decided to drink in Paris and doesn’t do the AA work“. I’m not going to write Blue off though. Like Jet, she clearly wants to get out of this, and like I do Jet I admire Blue for coming along to yet another meeting when she is clearly finding it difficult. Hats off to both of them.

There are some exceptions – Willow is one, Butterbean another and now Blue – but given how few they seem to be I suppose they do confirm the rule, for me at least. With most others in AA that I’ve spoken with, it’s like you can’t break through and see the actual person – it’s like any conversation and interaction happens through an AA filter peppered with various AA mantras. I’ve found this frustrating, whereas with e.g. Willow I feel I’m getting to know someone I genuinely want to be friends with and couldn’t actually give a flying fuck what brought us together in the first place – OK, so it happens to be AA but I know I would have wanted to get to know her if we’d met under any other circumstances. Same for Butterbean and again, Blue, even though I suppose with Blue it was feeling a need to reach out and help that has initially drawn me to her. Still. It’s less important to me.

It’s funny, I almost felt afterwards that perhaps this would be really frowned upon and the Right Thing To Do would be for Blue (and me too) to sink like a stone over and over until we’re so broken we have no other way out and then hook up with sponsors and do the steps. Perhaps this is breaking the law, approaching someone when you yourself don’t quite buy into the whole AA thing fully. For that reason, I will make sure I tell her that she is probably best off trying to get a sponsor, to get that AA guidance in a pure form – I mean, what if I somehow put her off AA and she goes ahead and ruins her life as a result? Maybe it is at this precise moment Blue needs to hear AA is the only way and commit to it fully? Maybe now is when the last thing she needs to hear about is how I’m happy being sober yet I’m not doing the steps (yet?) or bothering with more than a couple of meetings per week? Maybe knowing me might be downright detrimental for Blue? If she finds herself slipping, she must have a reason to drink – there must be something in her mind that tells her that it brings something good with it, be it relief from pain or to celebrate something?

Oh, I don’t know, but I should probably tread carefully here. I will definitely recommend she listens to AA’s suggestions and recommendations. After all, it’s just not possible to get sober and happily so without AA, right? So maybe I’m just as bad for Blue as that glass of Sauvignon Blanc was for me once upon a time, full of promises and illusions of things that don’t exist….

Hm….. This got a little weirder than I intended so let’s round it up. Today I’m not going to drink.

To Force or Not to Force

Sometimes my OCD takes me to stupid places. Like now – because I seem to knock out a blog post every weekday morning, I now feel this is something I should ALWAYS do. Way back when I worked in subtitling we often got free stuff from clients and I was handed the DVD box set of the first series of Sex and the City. SATC is seriously not my thing, I was more of a Friends kinda gal. First off, I cannot bloody stand that whingeing, shallow dimwit Carrie. Second, I don’t give a shit about fashion (if I can’t wear jeans and a t-shirt I won’t be coming to your pahr-tay, ta). Third, I’ve never felt panic at dating or the race to find the One and reproduce and I would rather eat my own head than sit and complain about it over cocktails (kill me, kill me now). I just couldn’t give a rat’s arse about any of the subjects around which SATC seems to revolve. But there I was, dutifully ploughing through the freebie DVD set and when I was through it felt compelled to get the other series and watch through those too. Hm, I must have enjoyed it – I’m not enough of a masochist to make myself do stuff I don’t want to do – but I do also know I regularly felt the urge to throttle Carrie and yell at Mr Big to run, run for the hills! Get away! You can make it! I must have liked it more than I remember, but either way little good will come from forcing yourself to do stuff and I think that probably includes blogging.

It’s back to will power, really, isn’t it? Forcing yourself to do or not do stuff.

Part of me just feel like SHUT UP SOPHIE and just go with the flow and enjoy sobriety, but there’s this other part of me that just can’t help but analyse it ad infinitum. The concept of will power is very much a part of that. The way I see it, freedom for me is to live the life I want the way it makes me (and ideally those around me) happy. Plus if I’m not happy, I’m soon going to drag my loved ones down too – if nothing else it’ll be shit for them to see me unhappy as it would be for me to see them that way. Anyway, freedom is happiness for me. A colleague just popped in for a chat and she’s been dieting forever. Told me how she’s trying to drink lots of water because she’s so hungry. You know, I’d quite like to lose a few pounds but to be hungry? You try to get between me and that bagel and you’ll wish you hadn’t. Luckily I enjoy walking and running and my new daily walks are fast becoming a highlight, I love walking for that hour with either music or an audiobook in my ears. It’s bliss. Not eating = not an alternative. But each to their own and I admire my colleague for being so good at denying herself stuff she wants. I’d be utterly miserable if I tried it for just five minutes. As for me, I’ve found ways to do what I want to do by doing things I want to do (walking or running) or not doing things I don’t want to do (drinking or eating dog poo) so it’s all very enjoyable to be honest. Thank God.

Drinking – I don’t want to and so I don’t. It really is as simple as that. And that’s why I also feel the SHUT UP SOPHIE thing, because making myself write about it every day is giving it more importance than is warranted in some ways. Do I really need to analyse this? Should I not just enjoy the ride (life!) and stop questioning every last thing I happen to feel or think? Just BE? I think I’m too terrified that my brain will trick me to not think about it. I really do worry a lot and seem to be on high alert with my sword drawn in anticipation of that evil little monster to crawl up on my shoulder once more. I fully expect it to. But why? Why or how could it when I’ve discovered that all the reasons I thought I had to drink – glitter, relax, celebrate, whatever – were nothing but illusions? I wonder what power it could possibly hold over me then? Can my mind really do such a u-turn – from a glass of wine being as appealing as a pile of dog shit to suddenly become Just What I Want? The power of our minds is infinite and there is no greater force, that I know, so the answer to that question is a resounding YES. The brain is our most powerful tool and so if that turns on us we are fucked. So I’ll keep my sword drawn for a while longer, if that’s OK with you. It’s been two months, that’s all. When it’s two years I may put it back in its sheath and just rest my hand on it in case I’ll need to get to it quickly. Two decades and I might even remove it and just keep it nearby. We’ll see.

Going to the usual Tuesday meeting tonight and hopefully they’re handing out chips (they usually do) so I can get my two months one. My 24-hour chip and my one month chip are both kept safe in my jewellery box, two cheap little pieces of plastic that are very precious to me and I’ll be pleased to add this third one. It feels good to do so. Just the thought of it makes me feel happy.

I’m not going to drink today. That makes me very happy too.

Shit Intentions

Ah, the rat bag – after a lovely, long drive through a sunny west London listening to the latest audiobook, I got to work a bit early and although I can’t say I’m bursting with motivation (that’ll never happen – not here, not now, this will never be enough to make me go YEEEEEEAH) I was in a brilliant mood. Then bing my phone goes and it’s a text from bambino’s school saying he missed a detention last week so now he’s getting an internal exclusion, which I think means he’s in isolation a whole day. The little shit! OK, so my child will never be the little angelic model student and I do freaking adore his exuberant nature, it’s the most beautiful thing, but WTF does he always have to be the class clown?! Apparently so, if this last string of detentions is anything to go by – always the same crimes: chatting, playing pranks or generally being a distraction. Oh well. He’s 13 and he’s a boy. Just on the lively side I suppose but this can’t continue so I’m going to now remove the Xbox until he sorts this out. I’m going to pick him up a bunch of language books, see if his behavior might improve if he gets to spend some time conjugating German verbs. *evil grin*

We’re now on summer time and I’m so excited! Perhaps it’s the Viking in me who’s rejoicing at the light having finally returned and I’m getting ready to make sacrifices to the gods and dance around a huge phallus symbol? Nah, not quite Midsummer yet, but the light is SO welcome! It was still light when I rolled out of bed and now it’ll stay light well into the evening too, hurrah!

Oh yes, that’s right, this was meant to be a blog about drinking, or NOT drinking rather – I keep forgetting and end up writing random nonsense. So. Still not drinking and hope it’ll stay that way. Right now I see no reason why I’d suddenly pick up a drink again but who knows. Mightier women have fallen on their sword. I don’t intend to though. Well… …having said that, intentions count for shit when you’re an alkie, they really don’t mean anything whatsoever and you could just look at my track record or that of any other alcoholic if you need any evidence of the bullshitness of our intentions. What I should say is that I don’t want to drink. I took hubby out for a drink Friday afternoon and contrary to what I expected when I first quit drinking I didn’t sit there wishing I had a glass of wine in front of me. I was quite happy with my pint of soda water and lime and it quenched my thirst too. This freedom is exhilarating, I can’t begin to explain how wonderful it is not to have that wild obsession take hold over me.

I may have initially exaggerated when I likened a glass of wine to a pile of dog shit but the more I think about it, the more accurate it is and actually not an exaggeration at all: sure, eating dog shit would probably make me retch and puke and all of that – I don’t think it’d be possible to actually eat it. But let’s say it was and I managed to get it down me. Let’s say I had the choice of a mouthful of dog shit or a glass of wine. I’d go with dog shit every time!

Whaaaaat? OK, Sophie, we get it! You love sobriety and you’re not finding it difficult. We’ve heard you go on and on and ooooooooon about how free you are and how you no longer see any reason to drink at all. But to say you’d rather eat dog shit than have a glass of wine? Cut the crap, lady! 

Nope, I’m serious. I would 100% prefer the dog shit. Allow me to explain.

Let’s start with the shit, shall we? Now, I don’t think it’d be humanly possible to first get it into my mouth and then swallow it, because let’s face it – it’s shit. But let’s say I did manage exactly that. At best it would be the most disgusting thing I’d ever done and I’d probably throw up a LOT and lose my appetite for a while. This might make me lose a bit of weight – see, a benefit straight away! At worst, given that it’s shit it’d be full of nasty bacteria and I might be a bit ill for a day or two. Still better than “eat shit and die”, no? Who came up with that, by the way? It’s such a satisfying insult! However, shit wouldn’t kill me, right?

And so the wine. I probably wouldn’t retch and it wouldn’t be totally disgusting because Sauvignon Blanc with soda isn’t revolting. It’s not as nice as water or fruit juice but it’s not so foul I’d gag at just the scent as I would with shit. But it’d awaken the beast, it’d remove me from the present moment and confine me to a terrifying darkness where my only company would be a raging desire and craving I cannot control, that would send me to blackout and take another piece of my heart away. I would then wake the next day and have those feelings alcohol ignites in me: anxiety, irritability, insecurity, doubts, paranoia, a short temper, worry, feeling lost and inexplicably low. Before I’d know it, it’d then creep back in little by little until the window between waking in the morning and pouring the first drink started to shrink. That’s terrifying stuff, if you ask me. That’s where it was once taking me, to that point when I started to wonder how far off I was from beginning to drink earlier in the day or even in the morning. The leap becomes shorter and shorter and I knew that the semblance of a life I seemed to still hold together would soon be ripped away.

So hell yes, I’d take the shit any day of the week and a second helping too for good measure.

I feel that’s a good way to go into this third month of sobriety – to know in my heart that eating shit would be better than drinking. I feel the odds are in my favour just about now. Don’t care much about tomorrow because for all I know the world could end before then, so I’m just going to live for today – and most of all LIVE before I die – and continue to be happy that I had a choice and made the one that is right for me. Sauv has no place in my life anymore. So long, sucker!

So where does this leave AA, this support network for those of us who are alcoholics and struggle with sobriety? What happens when you don’t struggle? When you don’t feel deprived but lucky? When you don’t yearn for a drink but feel immensely grateful you no longer want one? Well, I absolutely see a need for AA in my life, at least I think I do. And I’d quite like to go tomorrow and collect that two-month chip. It’s just I won’t collect it feeling like I completed a challenge or fought to get there – I’ll collect it feeling it’s a celebration of a happy event and how another month of well being and joy just went by. Just like I won’t get to 3rd June thinking ‘I made it!‘ but instead jump up and down and exclaim ‘wow, one year married to the most amazing man in the world!‘. Anything else just doesn’t make sense.

Today I’m not going to drink – why ruin a perfectly great Monday?

A Unicorn’s Cojones

Two months today! Two months of not drinking, two months of feeling like myself again, two months of inner peace and two months of boundless joy. Today I am celebrating a little milestone – in a line of endless such milestones I hope! – to mark how I on 23rd January 2018 allowed myself to break free from alcohol. It strikes me as incredible that I ever worried about what life would be like without booze but I think that’s the genius nature of the alcohol trap and one of its many ways of making us believe we can’t be without. Fucking rubbish, if you ask me.

When I got out of the shower this morning there was a card on the bed. The unicorn I trapped married had placed it there because he remembered and knew that this is something to celebrate. Fuckinell, this man is just amazing. I’ve checked and checked and checked but he isn’t covered in boils or turns into an ogre at first light of dawn. Honestly, I keep half expecting to discover he’s some sort of mirage just like I keep thinking sobriety just cannot be as good as this. What a pessimist I can be when joy and good fortune is sent my way and instead of turning my face to the sun I start to look for crap in the shadows. Why? Ridiculous, really.

I think one of the things that worried me when I quit drinking was how this might change things for Hubby the Unicorn. I worried he might miss drunken me, because in spite of all the shit that comes with alcohol, I am quite a lovable and fun drunk, plus I turn into a porn star. We’ve had LOADS of fun while on the juice, so many laughs and so much crazy shit happening. I’m not going to deny that for a second. It’s just that I think I thought that it was the booze that made it so and it wasn’t. We have fun and we do crazy shit because it’s us. As for the porn star, well – my husband is hotter than July so I doubt I’ll go frigid any time soon. But anyway, I did worry and I think Hubby the Hot Unicorn knew because sometimes I’ve asked him if he misses drunken me. I mean – just re-read that, will you! “If he misses drunken me”!!!!!!!!! If that’s not madness in itself I don’t know what is, but there you go, that’s what my brain serves up on occasion when I feel unsure.

And so my heart sang when I opened the card.

And so I knew with even more certainty that this is meant to be. Not just that Hubby the Hot Unicorn with the Perfect Legs is my world, but that my life was never meant to be lived in numbness from alcohol. What a man. What. A. Man. Oh, and I woke up enveloped in his long arms and delicious legs despite giving myself a fright by farting so loudly I woke us both up in the middle of the night. I woke with a start from the noise and vibration with Hubby the Hot Unicorn with the Perfect Legs and Flawless Arse giggling next to me. Five years in I’m not even mortified by that and he is equally strange as he went back to cuddling me even after that.

I must have eaten something that’s made me excessively gassy because this morning when hubby gleefully giggled again at my shock night time farting, I burned off another one (with the difference of this one being absolutely deliberate) and laughed happily at how loud it was despite going on for several seconds. Poor hubby did ask what’s wrong with me though. Still, not enough for him to escape to his own side of the bed – I say Hubby the Hot Unicorn with the Perfect Legs, Flawless Arse and Beautiful Eyes is the weirdo, not me. In fact, I think he wanted to shag me but I had pressed the snooze button too many times and had to get up. I mean, what sick son of a bitch would want to shag THAT?! He must REEEEEEALLY love me. I shall reward him by doing things to him later that would make my mother weep.

Conclusion: I am sober and I do extremely loud farts and life is very, very fucking good.

The women’s meeting yesterday was nice. Red came along and sparkled and I realised I’d missed her. Ivy and I grabbed a coffee and she is deep in her thoughts as always, but that glint in her eye is always there and her dirty laugh is never far away either. Willow chaired the meeting and although everything she talked about was stuff that made me think I was too busy thinking what an awesome chick she is to formulate any share-worthy feedback to what she spoke about. And as usual with me, things need to percolate a little and they now have. Willow mentioned how she emotionally felt irritable, discontent and something else I have now forgot but I think it was restless. I may have misunderstood but I think she was saying how alcohol calmed these three evils. Now, restless I can absolutely relate to whether I’m drinking or not. Irritable and discontent were however two of the bitches that came out to play when I put alcohol into my body. The thoughts haven’t brewed long enough for me to articulate them though, so I’ll have to get back to that one. Jet was there too and although I don’t know the girl I was SO happy to see her face (damn, should have told her – stupid) because her sobriety strikes me as fragile and I so badly want her to succeed. She briefly shared and again there were tears but FUCK ME that chick has got some serious cojones. If I go next week and she’s there I’m going to be the Giver of No Flying Fucks, stomp right up to her and give her a hug and tell her she rocks. (Watch me balk at the idea when push comes to shove though!).

Oh, another perfect message from a Higher Power delivered by my son as I was heading off to meet Ivy ahead of the meeting yesterday. I have not explained AA to him, I’ve merely framed it as a network for people who want to better themselves and that not drinking is part of that. I felt this was needed because 1) all these new friends he’s never heard of before – Red, Sparks, Ivy, Phoenix, Willow…. and, 2) me sneaking off quite often to meet with them and sometimes even telling him “I’m off to a meeting”. Now, bambino is a smart cookie so I’m pretty sure he’s worked it all out but even so. Our paths crossed in the hallway, me on my way to see Ivy and go to the women’s meeting and bambino coming home from school.

So you’re off to see one of your thingy-friends?” he asked.

What’s a thingy-friend?” I asked, a little bemused.

Well, you know, your thing.

Oh.

I can tell it’s doing you good,” he then added and smiled at me in that way that makes my heart swell with joy.

Really?

Yeah, you must really like them.

I do.

And with that he nodded at me, then retreated to his boy cave and playing Fortnite on his Xbox.

Yeah, he knows and I wouldn’t be surprised if he knows it’s AA and what that is. Perhaps I should have The Conversation with him sooner than I expected. As things were I figured I’ll frame it this way for now and broach the A-word when he’s older. It’s funny how I still expect the news (although it’s debatable if it’s “news”) of me being an alcoholic and going to AA would be met with horror somehow. My son has only seen positive changes in me and his words about my thingy-friends and seeing them doing me good was his way to encourage changes he hopes will last. I know my bambino like I know the back on my hand. He is his mother’s son and that’s how I’d frame it back – I’ll bet he’d given it some thought as it’s a potentially very sensitive subject.

Yes. I am stupidly blessed. I am so grateful that I am sober and for all the people I have in my life, for the life I get to have and for everything in it.

Today I won’t pick up a drink.

Meditation and Dirty Laughs

And so another beautiful pre-spring day here in Londinium. Oh fuck, I was right in serene and philosophical mode there with beauty and spring and Roman day London and then Willow texts me to say the creepy banana eating GIF she meant to send me yesterday had accidentally gone to someone else who wasn’t part of our discussion about the merits of keeping eye contact when you eat a banana. I don’t see how I can get back to serenity from there. Now, I’m all about the crazy but if Willow had sent me that thing out of context I honestly think I would have had to consult other people regarding our budding friendship. Apparently the recipient didn’t ask for any explanation whatsoever so I can only conclude they are deliciously warped.

I swear I’m trying really hard here to not think about bananas. At least if it had been grapes it might have been a tiny bit relevant to this blog but there we are.

Most mornings I take a longcut to work. It’s a bit like meditation for me, although I think (correct me if I’m wrong though) when you meditate you’re meant to clear your mind and not fill it with thoughts, no? Well. My take on meditation are those moments I’m alone with my thoughts, when I just allow my mind to wander – normally it’s quite random – and I find it really relaxing – and this morning when I was driving around west London in the early spring sunshine I found myself thinking about this woman in AA whom I’ve seen at the women’s meeting on Thursdays a few times. I don’t know her personally but will code name her Jet. The times I’ve noticed her she has cried when sharing. It’s hard not to notice that. So another warrior lady right there who appears to have lost hope yet drags herself to meetings – it’s stuff like that that impresses the fuck out of me. If I felt that sad I don’t know that I’d have the courage and strength to go and sit in a room full of what’s essentially strangers to fight this fucking thing I’m miserable because I’m struggling to escape. Kudos.

Beyond admiring how she has the guts to defy a monster that’s clearly getting the better of her, I started to wonder what it might be like as well as realise I’m nowhere near as strong as that. Hell, I’m only not drinking because I don’t want to. I have zero will power. This chick seems like she’s firmly in the grip of addiction, which in all likelihood means every fibre of her being is screaming out for a drink, yet she is fighting back. Last week she volunteered to do service at the women’s meeting with the simple and heartbreaking motivation “it’ll keep [me] coming back“. And despite tears and clearly feeling broken, she shares. The more I think about Jet, the more I realise how strong she is and how weak I am. Most of all I am reminded once again of how lucky I am. Please God, strike me down with some awful disease sooner than you allow me to want a drink again. Please. Or, should I say, some disease even more awful than alcoholism if we stick for a moment at least with the view that alcoholism is just that: a disease. (For the record, I tend to agree with this view for the most part).

What happens when you feel that way? Even if you ignore the reason you feel you have to drink, what must it be like to fight against something we actually want to do? Or fight against something we don’t want to do because we know it’s killing us but finding that we’re unable to resist urges we cannot control? From Jet’s tears I am going to guess that she desperately wants to get out of this, with a generous sprinkling of feeling desperate and frightened too. Like sitting in front of your doctor begging him to cut that tumour out and put you through any treatment required to get well, no matter how much pain it’ll take to come out the other side and you’ll do whatever it takes. And AA is a little bit like that, even though I got a sponsor and then changed my mind: are you willing to go to any length to get sober? When I think of Jet, I see someone who is. Why else would – or could – she find it within herself to get to a meeting? It’s so clear that she is desperate to get well. When I think about that I feel like a real arsehole because my biggest issue today is whether I use this evening’s meeting as today’s exercise by walking there and back. And I feel like an arsehole because I’m the git who sits in the same meeting not saying a word, never mind volunteering for service, and wondering why people still want to drink. I should just shut the fuck up (like I do in meetings), go give Jet a big pat on the back, tell her she’s incredible and that I pray that I will one day if I need it be as brave as she is.

That’s one of the most valuable things about AA for me – listening to amazing people share their strength, fears, hopes and whatever else. Quite often there is something that gets this little brain of mine into high gear and that can only be a good thing. I often feel I think too much, but I just don’t know how else to be.

Ah! Ivy just replied to my text and she’s heading to the meeting tonight. Ivy with the dirty laugh that I freaking LOVE. She tells me she’s confronting her fears bit by bit. See? Yet another warrior queen right there. And then there’s me and I’m confronting fuck all. I know I’m no better or worse than anyone else, so why is it that seemingly everyone in AA gets it and I don’t? I’m just not there (yet?). Or maybe I’m just stubborn and even though I’m not consciously resisting – the opposite in fact – it just takes longer for some people and I’ll get it eventually? All I know is that I can’t stop drinking if I start and I also know I don’t want to drink but perhaps that’s better than nothing.

Today I’m not going to drink. Probably because I don’t want to and still can’t think of a single good reason to do so.

“To the Point”, my ass

Here’s the problem – because I think it IS a problem – that scares the beejesus outta me… And I’m going to try to summarise all this in a manner that contradicts my entire being: concisely and to the point.

These are the facts as I know them:

  1. I am an alcoholic. This means that I cannot stop drinking if I start. There will never be a time when I can or will be able to regulate my drinking or control this, EVER. It’s not something that will ever go away or miraculously be cured. I will never be able to drink like a non-alcoholic. I am 100% a drunk and for that very simple reason I cannot drink. Not one, not once in a blue moon, not on Midsummer’s Eve and not ever again in my lifetime. This fact will never change and I accept that. I am an alcoholic, period.
  2. It’s quite worrying to be a writer yet not find the words, but I really can’t find the right ones to describe how happy I am that I quit drinking. I feel amazing – strong, sharp, balanced, at peace and content. There is no part of me that romanticises about Sauvignon Blanc or any other type of booze right now. (I felt I had to write “right now”, by the way). I don’t feel deprived or like life has lost its fun or any of those things, instead I feel like I’ve just come to life and firing on all cylinders to just embrace this crazy fucking journey that’s life now that I’m finally present and here to take it all in. I consider sobriety a gift and it’s precious to me. I feel quite stupid because I can’t now tell you why it took me so long to discover something so pathetically obvious: how life is so much richer in colour when I don’t drink. But there we are. Thank God I don’t have to drink anymore.
  3. As I write this, I cannot think of a single good thing that having a drink would mean. Not one. I know for a fact that a drink can’t make me feel happier as it’s a depressant so it’s just not possible, and I know a drink can’t make my day better in any way than it already is. It might loosen me up as it numbs my senses but that’s not a good thing, now is it? I think that’s the part we come to think of as the fun part of getting drunk when we start off boozing in our teens or whatever. That has no appeal. I don’t need to point out, do I, all the bad things that drinking would mean? Didn’t think so. But genuinely – let’s take what used to be my favourite drinking scenario: sitting on the wall by the river on a summer’s eve with my husband. I love the image. If I close my eyes I can hear the sounds, smell the scents and I almost instinctively furrow my brow to squint my eyes in the evening sunshine. Hubby is wearing his aviators and a short sleeve shirt and is sexy as fuck. I don’t want to drink on any of that anymore because it’d ruin every part of it. I think I used to drink because I thought it enhanced everything but it just plain doesn’t. A depressant, remember. OK, this became long, but in short what I wanted to say is that even in the ultimate large-glass-of-Sauv-with-soda setting there is no desire in me to drink whatsoever.

I realised quickly that short and concise is something I’ll probably never master so felt the need to highlight the main points for each point… ..sorry. I’ll try again some other time but for now you’ll just have to make do with the fact that I seem to lack the ability to use 500 words where 5,000 will do.

Now. At a glance the above seems like a pretty damn awesome result, right? Isn’t that a bit of a dream scenario to feel that great about not drinking if you decide to quit? And you are, like me, an alcoholic at that! Jeez, surely I’ve just found Nirvana? Isn’t what I’ve outlined above the ultimate goal for any drunk who wishes to get sober? To feel as good as I do and not feel any wish or urge to drink whatsoever? I swear on my son’s life, now that I’ve quit I genuinely wonder why I ever drank at all because those reasons (and come on, I must have had PLENTY because I drank like a sailor on leave, sometimes on a daily basis, for over a decade) are rapidly fading in my mind. I honestly cannot think of a single reason why I’d want to drink today. Or any day. So surely I’ve hit jackpot? What’s there to fear?

That’s the issue though. I think there is something to fear so although I’m enjoying all these feelings of joy and well being that sobriety has brought me, I also keenly keep my ear to the ground so I’ll hear even the faintest calls of the sirens that’ll pull me in and see me shipwrecked. It’s scary to think it’s my own mind I may have to fear though. Right in this moment I know I don’t want to drink. Right? And I also know that I’d want to reach out and seek help if the urge to drink suddenly came over me. Right NOW this is true. But what if it’s true what they say and suddenly I – despite everything I know and feel in this moment – start to think I’m cured and I can drink like a non-alcoholic? What then? Given how I feel now, this is almost impossible to imagine, I just can’t see how I’ll end up ever believing something opposite to what I know to be fact. How can I ever get to a point where I’ll think I can have Just One?

Would it be possible for my brain, unbeknownst to me, to suddenly start to tell me I am not an alcoholic? Grab any member of AA and they will tell you that this is precisely what happens and I’m not so conceited that I believe I am the Messiah of Sobriety who is The One to defy truths that have applied to every alcoholic always. I’m alright I suppose, but I ain’t all that and have a fair bit of wear and tear. These are all huge questions though and I don’t expect the answers are small or simple either. What it does tell me is that the physical part of addiction is easy to solve but the psychological side of it is quite possibly impossible. I suspect that’s the bit no one can cure because let’s face it, I’m only sober because I want to be – or rather, I don’t want to drink – and the moment I want to get drunk there would be very little to stop me. I doubt AA could stop me (or anyone) either. Fine, I’m sure lots of drunks like me get the urge, get frightened and call another drunk in AA for support, get to a meeting etc etc. But they only do that because they don’t want to give in to the urge. What I’m getting at is that moment you WANT to give in. That’s the moment you cork open a bottle and the LAST thing you’d do is call someone in AA. So I fully accept that whatever I do has to come from within me. I also accept that I’m very lucky to feel the way I do about drinking. Lastly I also accept that I may be much sicker than I think and that the fact that I feel this good is alcoholism’s way of making me think I’ve fixed the problem.

Who knows, but the fact remains that I don’t want to drink and so today I will not!