Yup, spring is definitely here now after a few false starts. The Brits are a funny lot – you only need to glimpse a bit of sunshine and they immediately strip off. Having grown up in a country where we have something called “seasons” (winter = cold and snowy, summer = warm and sunny) it’s with amusement I observe the Brits and their absolute inability to dress according to the weather. Makes sense in a way, given the difference is barely 10 degrees between summer and winter. I have lost count of the times I’ve been asked when I’ve complained of feeling cold “but you’re from Sweden, you must be used to it”. There is a saying in Swedish that roughly translated goes “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. This sums it up. When it’s cold, we wrap up warm and when summer rolls in we, well, unwrap. I feel the heat and the cold as much as the next person, amazingly, but perhaps I suffer less as I dress accordingly. Who knows. Can’t wait to be back in flipflops though – yay summer!
Blue is drinking. We’d meant to meet up for a coffee but she never got in touch so I did wonder and I wouldn’t blame her if she felt I might judge, she met me via AA after all and there she found little hope. But she’s OK – at least she claims to be and it’s not for me to judge. Said in a text she’s currently drinking at weekends and not alone and would be happy if she can keep it this way. I told her ‘good for you’ and meant it. I know I can’t do that because I’ve tried it a million times and it’s always bled back into school nights, but if she can manage then that’s awesome. And only Blue can decide what works for her, unfortunately there is no size fits all when it comes to alcoholism and problem drinking. Perhaps she’s more of a problem drinker than an alcoholic? I’m definitely an alcoholic and I’m sure there are as many definitions of the word ‘alcoholic’ as there are alcoholics but I consider myself an alcoholic for one simple reason:
If I start drinking I cannot stop.
Who knows, for Blue it might be different. Perhaps she doesn’t have that monster ruling her? Perhaps for Blue it’s just a matter of over indulgence and she just needs to make a conscious decision to keep it to weekends? I certainly won’t judge because I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. I can only speak for myself and in my case I have decided Weekends Only countless times only to find myself drinking every day of the week faster than you can say bottoms up. I told Blue I’d love to see her for a coffee but equally happy to go to the pub if she preferred a glass of wine – I’m quite used to soda water with lime by now and I’m happy that way.
It’s funny, I remember Phoenix sharing in a meeting once and she said she’s the kind of alcoholic who alcohol speaks to neh-neh-neh-neh if it’s around her or in the house. It pulls her to it and it’s dangerous, she cannot exist in a house where there is booze. That’s got to be shitty. Our place is full of booze. We must have – at a guess – at least ten bottles of wine in the wine rack, most are reds (which I don’t like) but there is ONE white and I know exactly which one as I spent one of my last drinking sessions drunkenly looking for it. My favourite too, a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. God, that pissed me off after I’d got sober and realised that fucker had been there all along! And then we have a cupboard full of other stuff – several bottles of champagne, Baileys, whiskys, Limoncello and other liqueurs. Oh, and a bunch of beers in the fridge that hubby drinks one or two of once in a while in his Normal Drinker kind of way. Anyway – none of it speaks to me but I wonder what it’d say if it did.
I’ve not been to an AA meeting for….. ..actually, I don’t know how long. Three weeks? I will have to go on Tuesday because Monday is my three-month anniversary and I sort of want to collect that chip. Then again…. I know it’s all down to me being in some sort of denial (I’m just an all-round bad human being) because it’s never clicked for me, this AA thing. I suppose it’s even less likely to now that I’m not even showing up for meetings though..!! It just didn’t work for me and if anything it kept alcohol in such focus I found I was unable to think of anything else. I’d start the day by praying, then read the ‘Just For Today’ card and the serenity prayer. Then during the day I’d call my sponsor and at least two other people and cram in a meeting too. And then I’d read the Big Book before bed, hopefully managing to give my hubby a seeing to before dedicating some time to Bill W before getting off to sleep. Even if you don’t work that would keep AA and sobriety your absolute focus. But that’s what they tell you to do – prioritise AA, something along the lines of putting AA first and then everything else in your life will be first class.
Has this been true for me? No. But as it says in the Big Book, this is because there is something wrong with ME. The only people AA won’t work for have something inherently wrong with them. We can’t be honest, we can’t be open and a bunch of other things that make us un-serene and incomplete human beings. I’m definitely on the naughty step.
I just feel, much like with the booze in our cupboards and the packet of Marlboro Menthol in the wicker basket (I quit smoking over a year ago), that any changes I make and any changes I maintain have to come from within me. I cannot live a life shackled to something or someone else to keep me at peace. That peace has to grow from inside my heart and soul, not be force fed down my throat or tie me to a routine I cannot deviate from. My long walks in the park are my serenity prayer – I may not always whisper the words to myself as I walk, but I feel alive and I feel a sense of calm alcohol robbed me of. Sure, I sometimes feel anxious but I put that down to being a human being. I just cannot refer every thought and emotion I have back to how alcohol seems to cause a defective behaviour in me. You know, I might react to something with surprise but it might not have any connection with my allergy to carrots, yet I felt that’s what AA was all about. Sometimes things just ARE. Sometimes things just happen – thoughts and emotions – because they are human reactions and not a symptom of something we need to analyse or purge. I found it all quite exhausting.
The other thing that struck me was something that is mentioned in the 12 steps. The bits about admitting our faults and making amends. That stuff.
Now, when I was drinking my whole existence revolved around alcohol – I was either blind drunk or hellishly hungover or busy planning to get drunk again. Everything else had to fit around those three states. As you can imagine, Everything Else didn’t get priority. When you’re drinking- Actually, let me rephrase: When you’re in active alcoholism – because there is a massive difference between how a non-alcoholic and an alcoholic drink – you are too busy to think or feel when it comes to Everything Else. Once you get sober, those things come a’knocking. For example, it’s since I quit drinking that I’ve finally been able to let some stuff go and forgive both myself and others. That stuff only happens when you finally have time for Everything Else again. It’s powerful stuff and as painful as life sometimes can be, it’s freakin’ amazing. I find myself now thinking about times when I’ve been selfish, in the wrong and downright awful and wanting to put all that right. To whatever extent I can, anyway. What AA prescribes in those steps – I wonder if those are things that happen NATURALLY once you get sober, if you only allow yourself to fully feel again? It seems to be going that way.
Aren’t we all, when we’re at our best and how we’re meant to be, wanting the best for ourselves and others? Don’t we all feel better righting wrongs and living the best way we can? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to help and support others? Once we have the chance to live again, I suspect that’s how we all end up. I think in essence, we’re all good. Aren’t we?
I want to start yoga for crying out loud! Why? Because suddenly I love the idea of going back to ME, peel away thoughts and strengthen my mind. I want to spread the word of sobriety (aka LIFE) because I feel I’ve happened upon something magical. I may not be subscribing to the AA word much anymore but isn’t it funny how it seems to be going in exactly that direction. Only the other day I was looking into what it’d entail to become a mentor to a young adult, young people who for whatever reason need support. I’m suddenly drawn to helping others as well as bettering myself. All the things that drinking stripped me of. I’m going to go out on a limb here and proclaim that I’m a good person and always was, but that’s somewhat irrelevant because no matter what or who you are alcohol will strip all of that away and leave no room for it anyway. It’s without alcohol I can finally live and be me, feel all emotions, acknowledge all thoughts and do all the things I was put on the planet to do, whatever those things are. It goes back to the simple stuff. I’m going for long walks every day because I love all the good it does for my mind, body and soul. I wash off my make-up before bed and put on a greasy night cream because it’s good for my skin to have the day washed off. I read as much as I used to once again because it’s so good for my mind to learn. And I have lots of love to give, not just for my son and husband or wider family and friends, but to pass forward too.
Life is fucking exciting when you allow yourself to fully live it. NOW.
Well. I’ll tell you what’s NOT exciting. My job. And I’d best get on with it now. My thoughts are pouring out of me but I’ll save it now for another day as I’ve rambled on far too long today.
Today I’m not going to drink.