Yesterday I was so grumpy I couldn’t make myself write. I suppose I could have forced myself but I had nothing to say except BLEURGH. Luckily my bad moods never last long, nor are they especially frequent – I’m probably just your average, fallible human being – and so this morning I woke up happy again. The best medicine for me is always a long walk (or a long run depending on how fit I am – which right now is not very!) and it normally just takes that ten-kilometre loop around the park for me to feel like myself again. Last week I was a bit mopey because I missed hubby, and yesterday work was getting me down. Pretty normal stuff I’d say, if I were to diagnose my state of mind.
Sobriety has brought me back to myself, and with it, my brain which now functions the way it does when all its wires aren’t disconnected and tangled up from a hangover. I’ve discovered I’m actually pretty sharp when I don’t anaesthetize my thinking capacity with vino. So it turns out that my job is something I could do in my sleep and it’s all pretty pointless. I am torn between yearning to do something that fires me up and just appreciating how lovely my job is. I should just use it for what it was only ever intended for – a Plan B to bring in some money whilst I pursue my real passions, writing and turning metal into jewellery – but it’s actually quite soul destroying to spend your days feeling like you’re wasting your life on something that is utterly meaningless. Hah!! Says the woman who has wasted many more hours destroying herself with drink. Even now that I’m sober, I’m quicker to point at other problems and forget momentarily that I’ve solved the main one and all I should do now is figure out how I spread these damn wings of mine!
It is now 119 days, which translates to three months and 29 days and that tomorrow is my four-month anniversary of being sober. It has not been without its pitfalls but I also can’t say it’s been tough. The thought of having a drink pops into my head every now and then, most recently yesterday evening when I was out for my walk. Towards the end of my route is a cricket pitch and players and spectators were congregating at the little club house in the evening sun, spilling out over the path and grass with pints of beer and glasses of Pimms. It’s a lovely image, no? Except I’m an alcoholic so for me it would be nothing like that, but even so – it looked absolutely lovely! But that was it, just a fleeting thought and I don’t think there’s anything strange about that. After all, I live in a country where the majority of the population drinks alcohol and where booze is considered a normal part of life, so it’d actually be really weird if I never thought about alcohol. My point is that of course it pops into my head, sometimes quite randomly, but I know that I can’t drink and that’s that. I’m not upset about it either. Sure – wouldn’t it be nice if I were just like most other people and could enjoy alcohol, but I can’t. I’m also not 5’11 and skinny (or 17 years old) so being a supermodel isn’t an option, but I’m not upset about that either. It is what it is.
In the beginning it was harder. I still wouldn’t say hard. Just harder than now that it’s reasonably easy. I had a near-miss one evening when I walked home from an AA meeting and there was another evening further into my sobriety when the thought took hold and I felt like I wanted to drink, but those two episodes each lasted perhaps five minutes. You know, I’d love to be one of those brave people who fight to the death to stay sober and I want to be the woman who can show you that fuckinell look what I just overcame, but I can’t sit here and tell you with a straight face that I’ve struggled. Not even a tiny bit. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not making light of those who struggle and fight every day to stay sober. I admire those alcoholics more than I can tell you and it’s their courage and strength I’d love to say I have, but I don’t. As in, I’d feel really accomplished could I sit here and write on this blog how I battled through another day. Does that make sense? I just wanted to clarify as I just read back and realised “I’d love to be one of those brave people” could be easily misconstrued and seem like I was being really ignorant and flippant.
Alcoholism is an absolute evil, as is any addiction. Boozing however, I think is particularly lurid because at least with bitches like heroin you have the rest of the world completely on your side when you try to fight her, whereas the only people in my life who are teetotals like me are Willow (who, by the way, I know through AA) and my friend L’s husband. My dad told me a couple of days ago how happy it makes him that I’ve quit drinking and in his next text message he tells me he has poured a whisky ready to watch the ice hockey.
…….oh, Sweden are world champions again by the way! Yay the blond boys! Actually, I don’t care all that much, but with such a poor soccer team I’m willing to take a win where I can…….
Anyway, do you see what I mean? With alcohol you’re trying to claw yourself out of the shameful, dirty and stigmatised hole of being a shitty drunk, and offering you a hand is the rest of the world whilst they hold a glass of wine in the other. Isn’t that just fucking mad?!
It doesn’t bother me, thank God. I say ‘thank God’ because I don’t know what I’d do if it did – alcohol is EVERYWHERE! My beautiful husband I have no doubt would pledge to quit drinking too if I needed him to (in fact, that beautiful soul has asked more than once if I need him to abstain), which makes me luckier than most, but it just doesn’t make a difference. In fact, I actually really enjoy going to the pub with him and sitting on the wall by the river outside the pub where we met nearly five years ago is no less magical just because there’s just soda in my glass. It’s MORE magical to be honest, just like everything else in my life is so much better now that I’m not drinking. I’m not on edge because I finished my glass before he’s even half way through his, I can just sit there and feel absolutely calm and content. I am not calm and content when I drink. Like with Sweden’s ice hockey team, another win. But stay with me here and picture this: a heroin addict trying to get clean and literally the whole fucking world is shooting up, can’t even switch on the TV without seeing commercials for it, much less go out for a meal and don’t even get me started on birthdays, Christmas and weddings! So never underestimate the insidious nature of alcohol addiction.
I’m not saying it’d be any easier to fight off heroin. To my knowledge I don’t know anyone addicted to it and have no real insight into what it means to get clean, but from what little I do know it appears to be a million times worse than alcohol. But I’m not trying to establish what the worst addictive substance is, I’m just trying to show that as far as addictions go, alcohol is a sneaky fucker and you can’t get away from it. You could possibly try to engineer an existence where you only spend time with other people in AA, but that’d be pretty restrictive and as lovely as AA people are, enclosing yourself in an AA cocoon would hardly be a life, would it? What’s a life if you are not free and able to enjoy it? Jeez Sophie, you’re waffling on a bit now. Sorry. Sum total is that alcohol is everywhere, and if you happen to be the recovering alcohol who cannot be around alcohol you’re in fucking trouble. Phoenix is one of those. She told of her 19-yearold son who keeps booze at home and it “speaks” to her. Fuck me. Hats off to Phoenix. I haven’t been to an AA meeting since I collected my two-month chip so I couldn’t tell you if Phoenix is still sober but when I last saw here it’d been 14 years so I’m going to assume she’ll keep on the right track. Imagine that – feel the pull when alcohol is in your vicinity. How she’s done what she’s done I’ll never understand.
Then there’s me who can bring hubby’s pint glass to my nose and enjoy the smell of beer. I never thought about it before I quit drinking but I like the smell of beer. A little unexpected because I was never a big beer drinker. Of course I’ve done the classic drunkard thing of switching booze, so there have been patches when I’ve bought beer rather than wine with the brilliant idea that it’s weaker and therefore will solve the problem, but my drink of choice has always been Sauvignon Blanc. Plus given the amounts I had to drink, I was also aware that beer gets you fat. Not particularly bothered about organ failure but oh my freaking Lord please don’t let me get fat! Ah, the logic of a drunk. So anyway, booze doesn’t bother me and it sure as hell doesn’t speak to me. Beer smells nice but it doesn’t make me more likely to pick up that drink.
I have no conclusions to draw from any of this, it’s just another brain dump from me in an attempt to find some sense in what alcoholism is to me and how I find being a recovering alcoholic. I still only know what I’ve known these almost four months I’ve been sober: I’m an alcoholic and I’m enjoying sobriety. I don’t want to drink again and the world is a pretty spectacular place to be.
Today I’m not going to drink.