October Piggy Back

Another Monday and unlike last, it’s a good one. Last Monday was super shitty. Today is just… ..normal, I guess. I’m not in a mood in either direction, I suppose I’m in that weird space inbetween that used to be so alien to me: the middle. Not euphorically happy or devastatingly sad. Just a standard, nothing-to-report, uneventful FINE. Is this what the third gear feels like? Strictly speaking it’s not entirely true because I’d still say there is excitement in me, a sense of joy and freedom – just not overwhelmingly so. Just, sort of, life’s great! I slept badly and had weird dreams but when you don’t have a hangover, once you’ve had that shower and got some coffee inside you, it’s all good. Think I may have a cold lingering – Bambino came back from his dad’s yesterday and had a temperature. I can always tell when it’s genuine sickness – as opposed to Playstationitis – because Bambino gets all needy and cuddly when he’s poorly. He’s just not an affectionate kid, never has been. Not at all like my nephews who are all about the hugs and snuggling. Bambino will endure a hug, but he’s never, not even when he was tiny, been the kind of kid who’d nestle into my arms and stay put. When he’s unwell, he does though, and this morning I got a lovely, extended embrace, the kind when he stays in the hug for a while. He was boiling so I sent him back to bed. He’ll be an adult soon enough and can struggle through forcing himself into work when he’s unwell then.

This third gear stuff though, it’s really quite lovely. When I was drinking and all emotion was numbed, it’s a different story. I never consciously drank to numb any feelings of course, if anything I drank for the opposite reason – to enhance how I felt – but this is inevitably what happens with booze. It puts a wet blanket over everything. So to feel anything at all, everything needs to be extreme and powerful. Gentle simply can’t get to you when you’re anaesthesised. I always used to put it down to my personality, that I’m just one of those people who feels everything to extremes. This is of course true – I do! – but now I get to experience that bit between the highs and lows. Drunk Me would have scoffed at this and wondered why anyone would bother, so when I write this it suddenly seems like it might not make sobriety seem so appealing from that perspective. I was never interested in that middle bit, you see. That middle that I find myself in today: feeling fine but not ecstatic, looking forward to the gym or a run later (haven’t decided which) but nothing going on that’s explosive, extravagant or note worthy. Sure, sometimes I was really fed up and envied anyone who could be more level than I am, but ultimately I always felt grateful that what I feel I tend to feel strongly. So if I were to travel back in time and tell Drunk Me how lovely it is – lovely but not extraordinary – to just have a bog standard Monday in the hope that she might come to her senses (quite literally) and want that too, Drunk Me would have turned her nose up and poured that wine.

I just don’t know how to sell the middle except to say it’s freeing. Freedom.

But that’s half the problem, if not most of it: Drunk Me would have thought she still had reasons to drink – ceeeee-leeeee-brate good times, come on! – and if all I were to offer her were nondescript Mondays, God knows if she’d even let me finish. It would have seemed like madness to give up something I associated with fun, happiness, relaxation, madness and giggles to just get… ..ordinary. Having said that, Drunk Me was increasingly and desperately tired of waking up feeling like death. And true enough, discovering nights of solid, quality sleep and waking up clear and alert was more than enough to send me giddy with joy and gratitude almost from the word go. And I suppose that’s what’s so lovely about a day like today. I don’t need anything else today. I don’t need extraordinary to blow me away because feeling healthy and well is enough. It’s more than enough.

October is here, and of course with it goes Sober For October. Lots of people do it, some for charity and others just to give sobriety a whirl or lose a few pounds. Hubby is doing it and is abstaining until Boy #2’s birthday at the end of the month – he’s booked a father and son day and it’s a cocktail making course, but this still leaves almost four weeks. Hubby doesn’t have a drinking problem, he is one of those mythical creatures with an off-switch. He can have a beer. He can have a couple of beers. He can have five beers. Or he can have nine beers and finish off with tequila shots. But it’s his choice. I’ve seen him tipsy on occasion, full on drunk a handful of times, but I don’t think he knows what black-out is beyond what I’ve told him. He’s probably what you’d call a very average, normal drinker. A few beers here and there, wine with dinner sometimes. At a guess he has a small amount of alcohol (small to my mind being two or three drinks) perhaps three evenings per week. When we first met he tried to keep up with me but soon discovered he couldn’t function at the level I was at so he stopped trying to match me drink for drink. Still, until I stopped drinking, the years we’ve been together he drank more than he has at any other stage of his life including the messy teenage and early 20s years. Of course now that I’m not guzzling wine like there’s no tomorrow, he’s back to drinking at a level that falls well within recommended limits but he wants to lose a few pounds so is hopping on the Sober For October bandwagon. Not that he needs to, he is perfection in every way in my eyes, but I think it’s good for everyone to go sober-curious here and there.

Because he is a man and life is unfair, he’ll probably shed three or four kilos based on cutting those few beers alone, but I suspect he’ll also notice a difference in health overall. He has a fitness watch that tracks his heart rate – even at his moderate drinking levels, I’ll bet his resting heart rate will come down a tiny bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if he can suddenly do more at the gym and ends up finding he can run a little further and a little faster. Anyway. On the one hand I think Sober For October is a little ridiculous as it shouldn’t be a challenge if you drink like my husband. On the other, it’s a great excuse for anyone to have a go at the sober thang. Of course, it also gives a great little excuse and cover story for those of us who perhaps have a drinking problem, to piggy back on it, hide amongst “normal” drinkers and point to the challenge instead of facing questions that feel too personal. It’s a good thing.

And me? 251 days today and I am so grateful. Stopping drinking is the best decision I ever made. Yes, you can of course say that having Bambino and marrying hubby were my best decisions in life and whilst this is 100% true, without my sobriety there would be no life in the first place. Winning. That’s what sobriety is for me, with all its ordinary, bog standard Mondays and all: winning at life. Fucking awesome if you ask me.

Today I’m not going to drink.

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