“So how do you feel about it now? Is it still strange?” hubby asked as we were sitting at opposite ends of our a-little-too-small sofa, legs across each other as we chatted about everything and nothing Saturday evening.
The truthful answer – and on this blog, truth reigns supreme – is that it isn’t. Praise to the Lord [insert joyful gospel choir here], sobriety has gone and turned into what I can only refer to as normal. I’m serious here – this deserves a HALLELUJAH!!!! My new status quo, only not that new. Feeling this good I don’t ever want to take for granted, and although that might sound glum, negative and like I want to spend my days trudging up the past, I never want to lose sight of where I came from. And where I came from was a rock bottom that had begun to feel hopeless because I was letting my life slip away from me. Suicidal drinking, remember? It’s quite easy for that to fade out when I’m waking up every morning feeling GOOD. Waking up so wrecked it’s hard to even move almost every day is further behind me for each day as the distance grows between where I’m heading and where I was. Sure, from what I’ve seen and heard, it appears to be more common to relapse early on but you do also hear of those who have been sober for YEARS – 5, 10, even 20 years!! – taking a tumble. And I wonder if it’s anything to do with getting so used to sobriety that you almost forget how bad it once got when you drank. Who knows, but for me it’s definitely the case that I have to really think about it to conjure up accurate memories.
So when hubby asked, I had to really think about it. I’ll never be able to say to you that getting sober was super easy and all rainbows and ponies, but at the same time it really has been such a gift. Cringe away, why don’t you, I’m gonna fucking say it: it is a goddamn miracle and although I’m not entirely sure who or what I’m saying thanks to (God? The universe? The raindrops that fell on my windscreen as I drove to work this morning?), I am filled with overwhelming gratitude every single day. These past almost-eight months have been amazing and yes, I have spent a lot of those on the Pink Cloud. Well, think about it! Imagine you’d been ill, very ill. So ill, in fact, that your life had felt like you were weighed down and dragging a tractor wheel everywhere you went. So ill, that unloading the dishwasher was a huge test of strength. So ill, that you could at times not leave the house. And imagine that all goes away in a matter of days and suddenly you wake up feeling well, and not only that, you also feel full of energy and can suddenly do lots of stuff. Of course it’s going to seem really quite magical that you can not only leave the house, but also stick to commitments and participate in life as opposed to just suffer through it until you can start drinking again. Of course that’s going to feel like you just won at life! This is 100% how I’ve felt these almost-eight months. It’s hard to remember what was difficult when I’m so floored by how good it feels to just be alive.
After some searching around the corners of my mind, because it did need a bit of effort, I remembered those first few weeks. Euphoria at feeling good, yes. But also restlessness because suddenly there was something missing and I felt a bit empty. The lure of the wine loomed large and it took conscious effort to avoid it. And I remembered how, unlike this Saturday evening, sitting on the sofa was really strange almost-eight months ago. This Saturday I didn’t fancy an alcohol free beer and had a glass of water instead. No internal battle or forcing myself to do this or that, just didn’t feel like it. And this afternoon I might feel like it. Or not. Whatever. I felt relaxed and at peace and I’m curled up on the sofa and chatting with my bestie. And that sums it up, I think. The restlessness is disappearing. The first few weeks I found it hard to sit still, felt I had to DO SOMETHING in order to distract myself. We went for long drives almost every evening – I’d forgotten about that! And I certainly didn’t trust myself (but then I still don’t, not completely), in fact any time hubby went away I was full-on terrified. Because I was such an excellent drunk (A* for me!) and drank almost every day, it wasn’t just my addiction, it had become a deeply ingrained habit too. What the fuck do you do at home in the evening if you don’t have a glass of wine in your hand? That glass was like a natural extension of me. And not just any glass. My wine glasses hold at a guess 400ml, these are the ones and aren’t they so pretty:
Jamie Oliver, no less and yeeeeessssah! Keep it simple! These bad boys will halve your trips to the fridge. I was wrong, they hold 350ml. To put this in perspective a standard glass of wine in the UK is 175ml and I don’t think I need to tell you that I’m not the sort of girl who wastes any space at the top except for a tiny splash of soda – my glass is always full and if it isn’t I’m fast as lightning to fill it right back up. Positive mental attitude, eh? No, it’s only very, very sad, but there we are. Point is, it was initially quite strange to not drink myself unconscious to begin with and for that reason I was restless and needed distraction. Is that bad? I don’t think so. If it meant taking long drives to stop myself from killing myself, so what? We may have added unnecessary pollution to the already questionable London air, but if that’s what it took to put some distance between me and that last glass of wine, then fair dos.
Now? Much less strange. Yes, there have been PLENTY of times when I’ve felt a tinge of restlessness and the thought has entered my mind, and there have even been a few times when I’ve actually felt ready to go and fucking do it, but those are fading too. Most of the time, the idea of having a drink makes me feel ill. No, seriously, I’m not kidding! The idea of it makes me shudder. Oh, if only you knew how grateful and over-joyed I am to feel that way! However now that restlessness is gone. Those huge Jamie Oliver glasses might even feel strange to hold, who knows, but evenings without them no longer seem odd. The idea of getting sloshed isn’t appealing even though that was – hand on heart – never the goal but something that just inevitably happened, but more so even getting tipsy seems bleak and something I just cannot see the point of.
In the early days of sobriety I likened drinking to eating dog shit. This holds true more than ever, with a slight but glorious difference! Early on, I felt I’d rather eat dog shit than give up this new lease of life sobriety has afforded me. Now, I still feel that obviously, but I am now at a stage where even the “good” bits about drinking (e.g. that warm, melty buzz) make me feel a bit ill but then again that’s entirely logical seeing as the “good” bits stopped happening. I think of a regular beer or a glass of wine and imagine the taste and it quite literally gives the same reaction as those under cooked, slimy, slithery tiger prawns I had on holiday. Yuk. Not quite dog shit but you get my drift. Dare I say it, alcohol has lost its appeal, much like my teenage crush Don Johnson was quite the dish in his Miami Vice days but now is a slightly over weight and past his prime old man with an unfortunate penchant for women a third of his age. Not attractive. Oh, who am I kidding, Don Johnson will ALWAYS be hot, ageing hasn’t done him much harm at all.
State of affairs, then: not drinking = not strange. The idea of drinking = not appealing.
You know what – I’ll take it.
Today I’m not going to drink.