Fallow Deer and Ghosts

Strangely, my urge to have a drink continues to be absent. This is good news, of course, albeit unexpected given I was under the impression I’d find it really difficult to give up the booze. Instead these past three months and nine days have been amazing and I’ve felt incredible. When I’d normally be drowning in up to three bottles of wine any given evening, I head out for long walks or just spend time with hubby and my son. Well, not so much my son – he’s not at all into hanging out with me at the age of Sullen Teenager and prefers his Xbox, but still. I’m HERE and I’m PRESENT. Best thing in the world and life is infinitely better when I don’t pour that shit into my body that subsequently had me feeling like a wreck both mentally and physically. In fact, looking back on it now I just don’t get it. That’s scary – how can you engage in such defective behaviour for years on end, and then the minute you step away for only a moment you struggle to see why in God’s name you did?

So perhaps a reminder once in a while is in order? An honest look back on what I was doing and what it did to me? Maybe then I’ll eventually find the ‘whys’ I’ve thus far failed to see or understand?

Wednesday. Like any other day. I got up just before 7am and went to put on coffee, then showered before getting my son up and ready for school. Drove the usual longcut to work because I enjoy driving and love mornings. Took the route around the park and drove through it via the wide, tree lined avenue in its middle, circling the beautiful fountain and mindful of the fallow deer. Saw the white deer again today, I wonder if it’s an albino? Got to work and settled with coffee at my desk, surveying my inbox to get a sense of what’s ahead. Most importantly though: I feel good. I feel WELL. I know, it’s such a small, simple thing, isn’t it? Feeling well is – or should be, no? – a very basic thing that I imagine most people just take for granted. Unless you’re ill, that’s just how it is! We get that for free most of the time! Not this drunk – for me, it’s sensational to wake up each day and feel well. WELL! It’s amazing stuff.

When I was drinking I would have woken up feeling goddamn awful. My hangovers weren’t necessarily tainted by headaches or feeling sick, it was more a sense of feeling like you’re about to collapse at any moment. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been on my way to work praying I won’t faint whilst driving. The sort of hangover that makes you feel like your body is a hundred years old and very, very ill. Not daring to trust your limbs and unable to form coherent thoughts along with having trouble even absorbing the simplest instruction and when making a straight forward phone call to book an appointment represents an intellectual challenge. It was a living hell on autopilot, forcing my body and my mind to get through each day and not in a million years would I want to – or be able to – head out for walks stretching 10k+ or do anything involving getting up from the sofa. I’d have heart palpitations and shake – I have a condition inherited from my father and paternal grandmother called ‘essential tremor’ which means I already belong to the shaky crew, but needless to say this gets much, much worse if you’re an active alcoholic. And try to solder a piece of jewellery when you need both precision and a steady hand to ensure the tiny flake of solder is right on a tiny seam. But feeling like I was quite literally about to keel over (or so it felt like), the worst part was the low mood alcohol caused: anxiety, worry, paranoia and always feeling a bit uneasy and unsettled. It was SHITE! And don’t even mention the horror of trying to piece together the evening before, the stupid shit I might have said – or written – and done. It quite literally makes me shudder.

When I was drinking I was like a ghoul. The discontented and lost spirit of somebody I used to be, somebody who died but stubbornly refused to pass over to the spirit world and roamed around in what used to be a life. Bad energy all round, encapsulated in a sense of restless discomfort. Eurgh! It might sound completely mad but it’s the only way I can describe it.

And then the 23rd of January 2018 came along and I got my life back. I got me back.

Even as I let my eyes scan the paragraphs above, I can’t find the ‘whys’. I cannot comprehend how I was in the grip of something so sinister and dark – VOLUNTARILY. Because for me it was still, at least somewhat, a choice. Sure, I’d always relinquish that choice by having that first drink, after which I was powerless to stop, but before I poured it? Before that first glass of wine met my lips the choice was usually there because I still hadn’t reached the point where I couldn’t function without it. Don’t get me wrong – that point cannot have been far off given you could argue that I barely did function, but I hadn’t yet managed to get myself to that darkest and most hopeless point. Let’s just say I consider that to be not only incredible and unlikely considering how I drank, but my greatest blessing too because I can’t quite believe I put my mind and body through all of that and lived to tell the tale.

And now I get to tell a different tale and it appears to be a happy one. Don’t for a moment think I don’t know how lucky I am – it’s my first thought when I wake up in the mornings, how grateful I am to be here and how good that feels. To inhabit a body that perhaps doesn’t feel like a 22-yearold athlete, but it feels like that of a 42-yearold woman who is regaining her strength. It feels good to draw deep breaths, it’s wonderful to feel my heart beating steady and strong in my chest and it’s nothing short of intoxicatingly amazing to trust my legs to carry me. Please never allow me to throw my life away again. Please may I always remember what it was like to be a restless ghost in my own life.

I can’t see the ‘whys’ but perhaps pure evil doesn’t need them. Alcoholism doesn’t need an excuse to kill you – it just does. For me, it didn’t even bother to give me any good stuff to lure me in, it just took me over. I can’t sit here and tell you that drinking felt good because I don’t remember it ever feeling that way. It just numbed me and then cost me thousands of hours spent in black-out. There’s no fun in that.

Today I’m not going to drink.

3 thoughts on “Fallow Deer and Ghosts

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