I really like those blogs that have the number of days in the title. 10 Days. 34 Days. 88 Days. 201 Days. And so on. Sometimes starting again and the day after 28 Days comes 1 Day. It still shows determination and anyhow I don’t think someone’s sobriety should be judged on how many attempts it took to stick at it. Occasionally I’ll refer to the number of days I’ve been sober in the title but it’s rare. As I’ve mentioned before I both do and don’t like counting – I think every goddamn second of being present is worth celebrating but I also think counting potentially sets you up for a fall should you slip up. It makes me think of Blue. She collected her two-month chip when I collected my one-month chip. When it was me getting the two-month chip she cried in the meeting as she relayed how she’d spent three days drinking herself to oblivion and looked broken when she collected the one with 24 hours printed on it. She got applause of course, like everyone else getting a chip that day, but her eyes were sorrowful and her shoulders slumped as though she had the whole world weighing on them. I suppose it must have felt that way.
I wonder how Blue is, actually. We made half baked plans to meet up weeks back and the last I heard she was drinking but managing it. I hope that means something entirely different to when I “managed” it.
So I’m in two minds about counting. I feel amazing right now to look at my unbroken stretch of 106 days, a string of beautiful pearls that I’m proudly wearing. How would I feel if I in a moment of madness ripped them off and then stood here defeated tomorrow having picked one up again from the floor? I wonder if the next number one or ten or 106 would feel so wonderful to add when they’d be something I once had but lost as opposed to proudly wearing for the first time? Maybe I’ll find out and maybe I won’t, I couldn’t tell you for sure but one thing is certain – if I do find out, it won’t be today. Today is a glorious day. Another morning that I woke up without a hangover and another day I get to spend feeling alive, present and grateful.
Except I’m on. Thanks to a lovely little case of fibroids I now have periods that are like giving birth without the reward at the end and bleed so much I teeter dangerously close to anemia on a monthly basis. You’re very welcome – I’m sure you’re all grateful for this information. Sorry, I have no filters or boundaries. Anyway, the Feminax and iron supplements have me feeling fairly human and the sun is shining so despite my cramping uterus I am pondering a run this afternoon to replace my long walk. I’ve had dreams recently about running and how good that feels. I do still occasionally have dreams about drinking but they are increasingly being pushed out by other, healthier stuff. So anyway, in the dream I was feeling strong and supple, bounding forward on the gravel path in the park and with each powerful stride feeling as springy as Mo Farah with the wind in my hair. The overwhelming sense of the dream was feeling physically fit and strong and it was wonderful. I did think actually, how when I started doing these long walks a couple of months ago, I could really feel it when I got back home. After the walk with hubby yesterday, our now “normal” route along the inside perimeter of the park just shy of 10k, it was nothing like that – I felt great yes, and virtuous too with that sense of having done something good, but no feeling of having done lots of exercise or sore muscles. Fucking awesome.
I haven’t been into running for over a year and a half. When you’re a drunk who’s still drinking it’s quite tricky to keep stuff like that up, but back in August and September of 2016 I was doing good, running almost everyday between five and seven kilometres. I think I must have been having one of those stretches where I managed to adhere to the weekends only drinking rule. Like many other alcoholics, I’d manage to stick to it for sometimes quite long periods of time – just enough to keep me thinking I was in charge. Anyway, the running disappeared and I’m guessing it must have coincided with when my drinking flowed out into the rest of the week again. It always did. The good thing about running is that it’s the sort of exercise that you can build up quite quickly. It’s fresh produce though as fitness tends to be so disappears as quickly, but I’ve always found it takes me no more than two or three weeks of regular runs to build up to wobbling my way through five kilometres without having to stop and walk (and I am by no means an athletic or slender little thing – I have plenty of junk in the trunk to carry with me when I hobble along at snail pace, but so what). Yep, I think it’s time now.
Hubby comes with me two or three times per week and the other days he’s either at the gym or goes for a run, so the perfect pattern would be to run every other day. Our around the park loop can serve as my 10k goal. It’s a beautiful running route and of course almost entirely free of traffic, only crossing the avenue that runs through the park and being mindful of the wild fallow deer. If I can get around that without stopping to walk by the time we go on holiday half way through July I’ll be very, very happy. I’m gagging to feel like I felt in the dream!
Why am I waxing lyrical about running in a blog about alcoholism? Well, it’s quite simple really – running has always been something I loved and drinking stole it from me, it was one of the countless things I couldn’t do when I was trapped in the bottle. With the hangovers I had I could barely stay upright so my running fell away. I’d get back to it during periods when my drinking subsided a little, a lot or even completely, but I always fell off the wagon and when I fell off so did the running.
Running feels amazing. One year I ended up with an inflamed muscle in my hip – it was horrible and for over two months I walked with a limp and couldn’t run at all. This was actually the year I hardly ever drank – 2010 – as the running and how good it made me feel made me naturally and instinctively less interested in alcohol. I can’t remember if the running ban due to the injury made me drink more but probably – I’m sure I did. Anyway, I missed it MASSIVELY and would enviously glance at people out running wishing I could get back out. After three months or so, I pulled on my running shoes. Heck, I even remember what I wore, just like you tend to remember a lot of details around a significant event. Fearing that the muscle would suddenly give in again, I started walking at a brisk pace in direction of the bridge, first a little cautiously but soon taking out my strides. On the other side I went down the steps to the river path, and as I approached the tennis courts next to the playground I started jogging. My hip didn’t hurt. My legs carried me. It felt natural. I remember how I just broke into a huge grin as I ran those first few hundred metres and began the loop around the bridges.
As it always did my drinking took hold of me again at some point although I don’t remember how or when exactly, but I do know that soon enough I was on the other side of the bridge again sitting outside the pub on the river and looking across at the path on the other side where people were running when I was drinking.
I wonder if it’ll feel like that when I head out this evening, if the feeling will have me grinning like a fool and I’ll feel almost as strong and bouncy as I did in the dream or if it’ll just be tough and I won’t even be able to keep running for a mile. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter one bit. I’m looking forward to it and the thought of it makes me smile. All these things that I get to have again. Sure, I could have had all this all along, but sometimes I wonder if I’d appreciate everything as much as I do now if I’d never drunk at all. I’d like to think so but I do wonder.
Today I’m not going to drink.