Can I just start with a warning today – this post will doubtlessly contain incessant bragging and is really just a huge exercise in attention seeking. And I don’t give a shit, I am THAT proud of myself!
We did it! 26 miles/42 kilometres along the south coast from Brighton to Eastbourne on the hottest day of the year, conquering the Seven Sisters, who, by the way, are fucking BITCHES. I swear, if I’d known how bad those hills would be I don’t know if I’d bothered even if I hadn’t hiked 20 miles already by the time we got to them. Oh, who am I kidding, as exhausting and difficult those last six miles were, I am so, so happy we managed to do it and yes, I’d do it again. I kind of feel about this like I do about childbirth – fucking painful and in the moment you make a solemn vow to never EVER do it again but then… ….you totally would and then you totally do. Well, I only gave birth the once because life’s plan for me didn’t involve bearing more children, but you know what I mean – it was never the fear of giving birth that was the reason I only did it the once. And as much as I thought I’d collapse when we finally reached the top of Beachy Head, the last huge hill before it was finally over, and we just had that last downhill stretch to Eastbourne, I knew I’d do this all over again as soon as I stepped over the finish line with aching hips and feet.
I’m not going to ever lie here on this blog, remember, so as tempting as it is to say WHOAAAAA what a champion I am I’ll be honest and tell you that the last couple of inclines my husband was pretty much pulling me. There. It was 100% much, much harder than I thought and those last six miles with steep inclines nearly did me in. Weirdly it was the last mile which was only downhill that was the worst and I actually thought I might not make it, I was THAT exhausted and felt like I was going to collapse. I’ve never been in a situation before when I’ve been so physically spent that it’s literally been a case of putting one foot in front of the other – that was all I was thinking during that last mile: one more, one more, and again, one more…. Also, I’m no good with heat as it is and sweat like a truck driver at the tiniest hint of sun, but this was something else. Without the heat, I know my hips and feet would have ached just as much but the heat was brutal. It might not have been any easier in more tolerable temperatures or even a bit of wind or shade, but fuck me that heat was vicious!
Thought the start photo was funny – check out Miss Contrary in the bottom right corner refusing to wear the green top. When I stand out it’s rarely for the right reasons, but hey ho. It wasn’t refusal so much as a matter of comfort though and had it not been so goddamn hot I would have happily worn the thick race day top. My friend Cherokee (who regularly does crazy shit like marathons and various long terrain races) had warned me against anything with seams, so my trusty super thin and seamless blue top it had to be. Unlucky for you, I have also hidden hubby’s gorgeous face just like I do with any photos I add here that happen to have friends or family in them. He probably wouldn’t mind, in fact he’ll probably ask me why I’ve done that and might even be a little offended, but he hasn’t asked to have his beautiful face displayed on this blog so unless he takes issue he’ll remain anonymous. He’s also on a plane to Prague with work as I write this so I can’t ask him anyway. I suppose you’ll just have to trust me when I say he was carved by angels.
OK, that’s it, I’m done and I’m sorry if that was all a bit obnoxious!
Sooooo…. Drinking. I’m not drinking. 167 days. I look at that number and find it quite unbelievable. I just don’t know if I ever TRULY believed I could do it. I know it’ll never be a case of “oh, I’m cured now!” and I’ll have to stay on task for the rest of my days, but whatever happens in the future I can still go back to this day and see those digits knowing it happened. And where are we right now? Not struggling but yes, I absolutely do feel like having a drink now and again. Not every day and it’s only been two occasions that I can think of when I was close to actually choosing death over life – OK, now I sound like a real drama queen, but that’s where drinking will take me because I’m an alcoholic and can’t drink like “normal people”. It’d be silly, or even dangerous, for me to think of it in any other way. I was killing myself the way I was going, period. So yes, two occasions when I very nearly did or at the very least REALLY wanted to. But I’m still sober and that feels really awesome.
I’ve learnt so much about myself over these five and a half months and I’m so grateful I got to that stage when I knew I wanted to change before it got much worse or had been too late. Don’t ever think I don’t know how lucky I am. Who knows what irreversible damage I’ve already done – I dread to think what I put my body through and every time I feel my heart beating hard, especially on the rare occasion that I have palpitations, I whisper ‘I’m sorry’ and hope to God I haven’t broken it. And those poor organs who had to battle so hard to cope with the poison in my blood stream. I did often have an ache in my lower back, which I assume might have been my kidneys. Any blood tests I had, including the one I had done in spring with a few months of sobriety in the bag, always showed good liver function (which drunky-drunk here always took for a green light to continue) but I don’t know how much of the story a blood test can tell. Probably very little. I simply don’t know if I stopped in time or if there’ll be a price to pay, but even if it turns out I left it too late to change my course I still know I’ll be better placed to pay my dues sober, whatever they may be. Sorry, that sounds very glum but I don’t want to minimise how serious alcoholism is or what it does. Sobriety, however, cannot be overestimated and no matter what the future holds I know that so long as I stay sober I can continue to recover the person I was always meant to be and even take a good shot at stuff like dreams and ambitions, YAY! Not a bad deal, is it?
Oh, another thing that just dawned on me is that this week is probably more of a risk zone for me than others as hubby is away. Because we’ve had a super busy summer so far and always something going on, I just haven’t had time to dread him being away and perhaps that’s why that devilish ping! with accompanying illusions of wine hasn’t popped into my head. Well, it isn’t there, or at least not yet.
Should it be hard to resist it if it does happen? So let’s break it down. I think sobriety so far hasn’t felt difficult because I just haven’t wanted to drink. Even on those two occasions I can think of when the urge got quite strong I can’t say it was a battle to the death to get through it. Mostly there is no will power required whatsoever, which is entirely logical given you don’t need any to avoid doing something you don’t want to do anyway. And I know I don’t want to drink. I can’t think of a single benefit drinking would give me, not a one. Dragging my fat arse over those last hills Saturday just gone took all my might though. The fucking will power I had to use to get through those last few miles was an enormous effort and a case of genuinely not wanting to go on coupled with doubting I’d be able to. So I keep thinking that if my brain goes ping! it really shouldn’t be difficult. On Saturday I knew I wanted to finish, I wanted that achievement and sense of accomplishment. After fighting those last miles I knew that finishing would feel SO good. So there was a reason to go against what I really wanted to do – give up – and go on. I have no reason to drink. Literally nothing at all. Mm…. See, I’m getting quite scared just writing this and perhaps it’s myself I’m trying to convince more than tell anyone reading this how pointless drinking is. I suppose if anything it shows the ugly and devious nature of alcoholism, how even when booze brings you nothing but harm and misery we still go on drinking.
I feel cautiously confident though. My hips are very sore and right now my 90-yearold grandmothers are both more sprightly and agile than I am, but I feel good and aching hips are better than aching kidneys – holy crap, I can’t even believe I typed that just now as if you could ever compare! Sober Me is who I want to be. I want to be the Anna who lives her life fully, not Drunk Me. It’s Sober Me standing there exhausted at the finish line with hubby. Drunk Me could never feel as good as that chick, much less do that. There – no contest.
Today, God willing, I am not going to drink.