Butt Naked and Badass

There is no end to the advantages of being sober and an added bonus is that I think that it’ll only get easier. Occasionally I hear people say they’re stressing about how to explain themselves in a situation where they’d normally drink. I can relate to this because stopping drinking was so HUGE to me and I did wonder if I’d be met with a bunch of chins on the floor in response to me saying no to alcohol. Turns out no one cared much whether I had alcohol or something else, but I can absolutely see why we get a little worked up over it. When we quit, it’s pretty much a whole new world, so no wonder we’re a little anxious about the reaction. Many of the books relating to recovery and sobriety I’ve been reading have sections on how to handle this and some give a list of suggestions for what you can reply or how to explain why you’re not drinking.

I can safely say that I think drinking was almost part of my identity, just like smoking (although since two years back I vape) – a friend from uni once said she couldn’t imagine me as a non-smoker. Out with friends when the bartender might ask if it’s a regular or large glass, someone might have said “large for Anna obviously”. It was just expected of me to drink like a sailor and smoke like a chimney because I always did. So it’s not just removing your security blanket, it’s also hoping people won’t point and laugh at you when you’re standing there all bare. Personally, there’s nothing I hate more than being the centre of attention – I don’t particularly enjoy being noticed so even changing my hair I find uncomfortable as I feel awkward if people notice. So then with this HUMONGOUS change, I did at first think that social gatherings would feel like that nightmare where you’re up on stage in front of a packed theatre and everyone you know and discovering you’re butt naked. The feeling of being exposed is of course fairly logical in that without any booze we are truly ourselves. Perhaps there’s some trace of fear of rejection too? Luckily I quickly discovered it was almost the other way around. Not only did people not disapprove, almost everyone has been impressed. What about that, eh! And more often than not, a few drinks in, someone will approach me and confide that they too actually want to go sober.

The tide is turning on booze. I genuinely believe this. There is no doubt in my mind that my great grandchildren will gawp at alcohol commercials the way we gawp now at tobacco commercials from the 60s. No doubt whatsoever. A recent study showed that a much larger percentage of the age group 16-25 claim to be non-drinkers compared with only 20 years ago. OK, there’s all sorts of other crap young people put into their bodies but one thing at a time and at this present time it would appear that alcohol is slowly but surely losing its street cred. It’s no longer all that cool to drink. Only the other day I saw a post from the Facebook group for my area of London that was encouraging people to shop local and had a list of where you can get various Christmas must-haves from. Yes, it listed a wine merchant’s but it also had a specific entry for “dry drinkers” and that, my friends, made me smile from ear to ear! It wasn’t there like that sad corner of the supermarket that has “free from” products, it was just there alongside and given as much space as the other festive staples like turkeys and wrapping paper. It wasn’t there as an consolation prize for those who “can’t drink alcohol” but as a perfectly good option amongst all the others. Being a non-drinker doesn’t at all mean we become social pariahs like I suspect many of us fear. Well I did anyway – hell, I feared being home alone and not drinking so to even contemplate out socially was mind boggling for me back then. But here we are now and as far as I can see, being a non-drinker isn’t just acceptable, it’s becoming more and more common and something we’re starting to think of as BADASS! And quite right too.

Well, I for one have yet to encounter anyone feeling sorry for me. In fact, a lot of people seem to feel a little intimidated and without me asking about their habits begin to give a long list of reasons why they enjoy drinking – almost like they’re a little embarrassed of their choices and feel an urge to defend them. OK, so I didn’t exactly drink normal amounts and perhaps the reactions I get are therefore all my family and friends drawing a collective sigh of relief, but even so – even people who don’t know me and therefore have never witnessed me guzzle, will invariable comment “oh, good for you!” when I say I don’t drink. It’s 2018 and my impression of the world is that not drinking is almost entirely seen as a really great thing. That’s the response I’ve had anyway.

When I first stopped – actually, I still sometimes get a little insecure about it – I was quite worried that my husband would miss “fun Anna”. Like many other people I shed all inhibitions when I’m drunk and of course this does mean that I’m more likely to be crazier and sillier when I’m hammered. And you only need to listen in sober to a conversation between two giggling drunk people to know that some things are only funny when you’re sloshed. Yes – we did go out more. Yes – we did laugh the next day more often about how funny this thing or that from last night was. Yes – I was wilder in a whole bunch of ways. I still worry about that sometimes. Yet deep down I know that hubby is nothing but thrilled that I stopped drinking. Things ARE different. I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s the same as before because it isn’t. I’m not the same. Things are better. I’m better. No, hubby no longer has a wife who is often more than a little tipsy when he gets home in the evening and ready to let loose on any given day of the week, but he has one who’s up for going to the gym with him or a run. A wife who has done the things she needed to do and isn’t too muddled up from hangovers to even arrange for the groceries. I’m still ME. And that’s who he fell in love with – me. So he has more of the person he fell in love with (this is good AND bad I guess!) because I’m never that dumbed down drunk version of me.

So I’ve come to believe there are just no real downsides to not drinking in this day and age. But then we watched a recent episode of First Dates and a cute couple called Lee and Abbi. Their date was really sweet and they clearly hit it off. Lee was obviously taken by Abbi who came across as super smart, really funny, a little quirky, charming and interesting. Oh, and she’s a really beautiful woman too. But Lee, who likes a good night out, was concerned that Abbi doesn’t drink and therefore decided against another date.

Did he just turn her down because she’s not a drinker?” I asked hubby in disbelief.

Yeah,” hubby replied.

I actually went a little cold.

If I had stopped drinking before we met, would that have put you off me?” I asked, suddenly needy and insecure and once again feeling that worry I did in the beginning that the non-drinking would turn me into a bore.

No. Why?

Well – look at her! She’s wonderful and that bloke turned her down because she prefers a cup of tea and staying in!

Yes, because he’s a twat. I’m not a twat, am I?

Still, it made me feel a bit sad that twatty Lee had turned down lovely Abbi because of such an insane reason, but it turns out Lee did come to his senses. After the end of filming he contacted her and asked her for a chance after all and they ended up dating.

Clearly non-drinking can be a little awkward, after all. When I still drank I would have dismissed any non-drinker as a self righteous boredom zone and done my best to avoid them, but I was a heavy drinker who already knew deep down that I had a massive drinking problem. I did NOT need another mirror held up to me – I already knew. But I do wonder if this is how regular drinker feel too? That we feel a bit threatened and annoyed when someone’s made a really healthy choice? Like when someone exercises a lot and we feel a little inadequate because we feel like we’re not doing enough? Oh, I don’t know. It is still perhaps a little unusual to stay away from alcohol but as I said, I really do believe alcohol is on its way out. I think it’s entirely possible that even in my lifetime there’ll be a day when it’s as frowned upon as smoking is now.

Enough rambling on from me for now but do let me know what you think. Were you worried it’d be awkward to tell people you’re no longer drinking?

Today I’m not going to drink.

Shivery and Cold

Sometimes paranoia creeps up on me. Like a dense and moist little cloud of anxiety and self doubt that slowly envelopes me until I’m shivery and cold. Right this moment I’m wondering if my “coming out” has a negative effect on people around me. From a purely selfish perspective it was a huge relief to finally say it out loud and a massive weight off my shoulders. By accepting and even embracing it, I was given a chance to recover and get back on my feet. It was pretty much entirely a positive thing for me. Scary, sure, and overwhelming too, but I finally felt full of hope for the future and accepting the problem – aka I’m an alcoholic – was the key. There have been some slightly awkward conversations, because it turns out it’s quite hard to just casually drop into conversation that you’re a roaring drunk. With some people, to date namely my brother D and my mother, I’ve felt really worried that me saying I’m an alcoholic would hurt THEM somehow. I.e. that it’d be too sad for them to bear. I mean, for me the sad bit was when I was drinking and this sober stuff is when life has truly begun, but I worried it’d be much harder for them to accept. Perhaps I felt that way because they are in Sweden and rarely see me and therefore it only became an actual THING when I dropped the A-bomb? Oh, I don’t know.

That’s not quite the bit that has me cold and shivery though. Sure, the temperatures have dropped and it’s wet and windy outside (eek, I’ll be running in this later), but I was thinking of Lopez. She’s one of my best friends but I haven’t seen her since my wedding day as I live in the UK and she lives in Canada. Given we don’t see each other often, I obviously haven’t been able to have any conversation with her about me getting sober. I kind of figured it’d only be good news to her though – I mean, both Lopez and Danish once told me about, oh maybe ten years ago they were worried about my drinking – so I didn’t worry about wrapping it in too much cotton wool like I did with my mum. We usually drop each other an e-mail once in a blue moon so I wrote the usual catch-up stuff and accounted for however many detentions Bambino had that particular week (two) and how great things are at home with hubby (very). Then I just said it, that I’d stopped drinking because it’s a huge problem and I’d had enough. Oh, and that I’m an alcoholic. I think I started with the A-word to be fair. And I thought nothing more of it.

There’s never been a reply though.

Months went by. I sent a happy birthday when Lopez turned 43 in August and she did respond then just to say she’d reply properly soon. But then several weeks passed again. I sent a little message just wanting to check she’s OK but again nothing. And now, when another couple of months have passed, I dropped her another message. I can’t quite imagine it’ll be anything to do with me or stopping drinking, because if it was ME she wouldn’t have been my friend to begin with and if it was the drinking surely she’d like me better now I’m sober and especially as she was one of the people around me who were worried about my boozing. Dunno, but I suppose I’ll eventually find out.

Then there’s my dad, who was absolutely delighted to hear I’d stopped drinking but over the past few months he’s not been sending the usual Friday text message that goes to me and my brothers: “have a good weekend my little ones“. And he doesn’t seem to call me as often lately either. Actually, typing this out helps because I see how ridiculous I’m being. I’m going to call dad this evening and if Lopez doesn’t respond in the next week I’ll just sort of ask somehow. I suspect I’ve been taking a little swim in the narcissistic pond (perhaps even the one Narcissus was admiring his own reflection in) again and making things about me-me-me when in fact there’s none of that.

Today I’m not going to drink.

300 Days

I can’t believe I’ve been sober 300 days. This is, no doubt, the longest I’ve gone without alcohol since the first time I ever drank. No joke. I’ve had three long-ish dry spells before this: around 2001 when I was in a shitty situation, when I was married to my first husband and including my pregnancy 2002-2006, and in 2010 when I went for a good four or five months. None of those were “attempts” to get sober, but rather times when alcohol disappeared due to me either going through a rough time and therefore didn’t feel like drinking or being really into running and therefore not adding the one thing that makes it impossible to keep up any fitness regime. None of these were completely booze free, but rather periods of time when I drank very rarely. When it comes to trying to do something about what I for a long time knew was a massive problem, I tried what feels like a million times to control booze. Abstinence would usually last a day or two and any moderation attempts worked until I ordered another one – in other words, never. So this is a victory because in all my attempts to get my drinking under control, this is the first time I’m approaching something that is distinctly beginning to look and feel like success. Perhaps it’s true that practice makes perfect. Not that I need to be perfect – just sober.

This time around was very different or at least it feels that way. Whereas I before knew it was a problem and that I needed to stop, it was only 300 days ago that I’d really had enough. Before this, I’d always still wanted to drink despite knowing I had to stop. This time I just knew I didn’t want to drink anymore, problem or no problem – I was done. I’d had enough of feeling like shit every day. I’d had enough of not being my best. I’d had enough of losing control. I’d had enough of being scared. I’d had enough of not being me. I’d had enough of having enough. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Gone were all delusions of being able to stick to weekends only or stopping at a certain number of drinks or any of the other, countless and ultimately ridiculous rules I tried to make myself believe I could abide by. I think I’d also got to that point where even when I was in the middle of drinking it’d become impossible to try to make myself believe it was fun or beneficial somehow. It was like a toxic relationship coming to an end, and it was of course toxic in the literal sense of the word. You can forgive almost anything when you’re still in love, there are almost no limits to the abuse you will suffer through and yet you defend your love. Then suddenly one day you discover you’ve finally fallen out of love and you see your abuser for who they truly are. In that moment, beauty turns ugly.

I think I had to get to that point. I mean, I wish I’d got there much sooner. In fact, knowing what I know now, I obviously wish I’d never bothered with alcohol at all. But I think I needed to really see alcohol’s real nature and understand it and it wasn’t until 300 days ago today that I genuinely did and knew the game was up. It’s something to be grateful for and I am.

It’s often said that we have to hit our rock bottom before we can begin to recover. Of course that rock bottom is different for everyone. My consequences hadn’t yet become visible outwardly I suppose. I mean, I don’t think anyone around me failed to notice I was a little bit too chummy with the old Sauvignon Blanc, but I wasn’t in the gutter. The most accurate and honest way I can put it would be to say that 300 days ago it struck me like lightning: I knew where I was headed and I didn’t want to go there because it terrified me. It wasn’t yet a reality but it was clear that it wasn’t far away if I went on drinking. The beast had its claws deep into me and was breathing down my neck. I wasn’t in the gutter but I instinctively knew how it’d feel and I knew I had to fight for my life if I wanted to have one. I just knew it was over. Luckily, and perhaps thanks in part to falling out of love with booze, it hasn’t been the fight to the death I first thought I was in for. It’s by far the biggest change I’ve ever made and my life has changed infinitely because of it, but I would be lying if I were to say it’s been tough. I’d also be lying if I were to say it’s been easy. It’s been both, is the truthful answer: mostly easy but a little bit tough. What’s also true is that even though I haven’t had to so far, I’d fight to the death any day to keep hold of what I now have.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Scream Like a Banshee

My slightly strange week is finally merging into the weekend and I’m really glad it’s Friday. It’s quite ironic, perhaps even foolish and a little crazy, that whilst I’m in what can only be regarded as early-ish recovery, I’m trying to be the support for someone else. Although, to be fair, this is actually one of the cornerstones of any 12-step program – by helping others we help ourselves. My ex-sponsor Sparks used to say that when she helps others it gets her out of her own head.

Either way, as long as what we do is positive, I think it’s a win whether we do it for us or someone else. And recovery is a bit like childbirth as far as I’m concerned in that there are a million opinions on how to do it. Unsurprisingly, my views on both are fairly similar: do what works for you, the method doesn’t matter in the slightest, whatever gets you there is PERFECT. Some people get sober through God and some women deliver their own babies in a meadow surrounded by deer and butterflies and nothing but a blissful sigh escapes their lips when baby is crowning. Good. And then there are whose who have to relapse a thousand times and find another way and mothers who scream like banshees from the first contraction (ahem) and need all the drugs they can get to squeeze their bundles out. Good also. And they’re all heroes.

It would seem that helping others does do something good for us. Now, in my case at this present time, it’s not a fellow alcoholic I’m trying to support but a depressive. Her predicament shouldn’t actually in any way be a vehicle for my own recovery as this strikes me as really selfish and indulgent, but just over this past week it’s been enormously enlightening for me to actually see for myself how much better I am when I’m sober. It’s like with anything, no? Even if we do it all for someone else entirely, there is just no escaping how it makes us grow as human beings when we’ve done a good deed. It feels good! Just like it fills us with love to see someone we care about unwrap a gift we got for them. Mother Nature’s clever way of signalling see how good that feels! Do more of that! Alcohol goes against all those things that Mother Nature has equipped us with, but even when booze gets us properly ill we still persist. It’s completely bonkers but I am absolutely of the opinion that when it comes to alcohol we are brainwashed from the day we’re born when people celebrate by “wetting the baby’s head”.

Again, my friend’s situation shouldn’t be used to better ME, but it seems to be something of a positive side effect. It happens by default and I may as well recognise it. Learning more about depression and trying to understand what she’s going through is forcing me to really slam on the brakes and go at that weird speed I’ve never been good at: cruising. Not even cruising, it’s at that crawl you get when you take your foot off the brake. 10 miles per hour at most. Then a stand still. Reverse a million miles and be stuck back there again. Then the crawl. It goes against all my instincts and I am quite literally biting my tongue when all my head is doing is sprouting solutions and suggestions and do this, do that, try this thing, have a go at that. Not only does it force me to slow the hell down, it also requires me to listen and it demands that I accept that Kitten has to ride this out her own way. My ONLY job is to be her friend and love her. End of story. Drunk Me wouldn’t even have made it through the opening credits of that one, I can tell you that.

As for my own recovery, fine flying conditions continue and it’s all quite cosy and comfortable on the Pink Cloud. I’m learning more and more about addiction and recovery, and alcohol’s real role in my life. Sometimes it makes my eyes narrow as a thought doesn’t quite fit, other times they’re wide open and my chin is on the floor. It’s definitely a journey – I can totally see why recovery is often referred to in that way.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Moderation Viking Style

Do you remember how I told you in a previous post that I’m always right? Well. It would appear that I stand corrected. *drum roll* I was wrong. Yep.

This, I want to point out before anything else, is one of the best things about the online recovery community. Writing has always been my passion as well as a way for me to process and make sense of things, so my blog originated as a tool for me to get all my thoughts out. There is also the desire to pass on the lessons I learn in the hope that perhaps someone can take something good from my experiences, even if it’s the tiniest little thing. But the best thing of all is the wealth of experience, advice and insight I get to tap into by reading other blogs – I swear, every single time I read other blog posts (and do check out the list of blogs I’ve favourited to explore this treasure chest I’m continuously building as I discover all these amazing voices out there) I learn something. Sometimes it’ll be something that makes me go “uh-huh” in recognition, other times of course I may not agree or relate at all but it always makes me think and take something away with me. There’s always a little lesson in there somewhere. Then, on occasion, it’s a thunderbolt.

This thunderbolt was delivered by feelingmywaybackintolife via comments on a previous post I wrote. Given my desperate need to get along and have everyone like me, I much prefer being able to agree, but I got my knickers in a right old twist as I couldn’t for the life of me say that I ever drank because I wanted to numb how I feel. Initially I felt like I’ve done in some 12 step meetings where some people have droned on (yes, droned ooooon) about how hard sobriety is when I’ve just felt the opposite and actually thought of the drinking as the really difficult bit. It’s complicated to put all this into words and articulate clearly how I feel but there we are. Getting sober has been life changing simply because it feels like I’m finally LIVING. Anyway, Feeling suggested that addiction often comes down to an inability to accept or be content with what is. To my ears this initially sounded like she was saying all addicts are hurt or broken or down somehow. I thought it was yet another person saying it’s always about numbing how we feel and of course this just wasn’t true for me. But then I got it – I think, anyway.

So take that scenario when I really fancy a drink – I’m happy and excited and ready to go for it. Why not, in that instance, just stay with the feeling? What is it that drives me to pour wine on it? In my head, wine was glitter that you sprinkle around you to celebrate. The question is why I felt it needed to be celebrated or enhanced? And obviously given how the drinking was wrecking my life it seems even more mad. Why can’t I just be content and joyous with how I feel instead of adding booze? Of course I thought alcohol made everything even more joyous despite struggling through the day because of the previous night’s “celebrations”. Now that I’m sober, this is the case and I stay in the feeling all the time but that’s largely down to the fact that I realised booze does none of the things I thought it did. Fuck, there were times I filled up the glass and felt the deepest sorrow over being unable to stop myself and knowing that first drink was the entrance gate leading to ten more. Joyous indeed. But this is my alcoholism in a nutshell: booze to my mind was an enhancer but something that turned dark because I can’t stop when I start and the beginning of the end was when it got so bad I was pouring that first glass with despair and yet I couldn’t stop myself. And here’s why it was a thunderbolt to me when I finally – after Feeling had patiently explained several times and it eventually got through to me – understood what the real question was. That I saw alcohol as an enhancer we’ve already established but why did I need any enhancer in the first place?

There is a word in Swedish that I absolutely hate and with considerable passion too: LAGOM. It’s so stupid other languages don’t even have a word for it. It sort of means not too much and not too little – just right. Enough. No excess and no shortage. I’ve always seen it as fucking bollocks and any time someone says it I want to go viking on their ass and drink my coffee from their skull. Now, believe it or not, the word does hail from viking times. It is formed of two other words: “laget om” which kind of means ‘the whole team round‘. And will you get a load of this – it refers to drinking! Now this is truly nuts because it’d suggest my fearsome, pillaging, robbing, conquering, plundering, warring ancestors were awesome at this thing I just can’t do: moderation! Of all fucking things my ancestors went and bloody invented moderation. I can’t fucking take it but it’d seem they did indeed. They passed the cup of mead around to each other – the whole team round or “laget om” – and the idea was you drink your share, which meant being mindful that there was enough for everyone else to get a sip too. Who knew! I mean, at a glance I would have thought I’d made a fine viking indeed with my full throttle approach. In reality I would have been a terrible one – necking back all the mead in one greedy go, leaving nothing for the rest and then being excluded from any future Villages-to-Burn strategy meetings.

There you have it: the vikings were mindful moderators. Perhaps “lagom” is the way to go, after all…..?

Actually, fuck no, I’m not going to convert to the church of lagom, I’d sooner eat my own head, but perhaps this is KIND OF what I have been – in spite of myself – been slowly learning throughout my sobriety? Finding the glitter right where I stand? Oh damn you Feeling – if you’ve turned me lagom I will have to hunt you down and force feed you pickled herring until you beg for mercy. Holy cannoli. But it seems to be true and I freaking LOVE how Feeling managed to switch on this lightbulb for me. Why is it never enough for me? Well, now that I’m sober it absolutely is, but when I look back at my drinking, why was it that a feeling of happiness immediately had to be enhanced, accelerated, pumped up and magnified? I’m like this in general too. Now that I’m sober I’m learning to love and discovering the beauty of “what is”. I quickly discovered that I don’t in any way whatsoever need to enhance anything. So why did I before?

Half measures have never been my thing, which I suppose makes perfect sense given I’m an alcoholic but it permeated every single area of my life from eating like a truck driver to crawling across the dam mechanism at a power station. It’s full throttle. Everything I feel, I feel strongly and although I actually wouldn’t want to ever change that, I do really appreciate life sober and how it has balanced me out again. Alcohol threw me off balance completely and made me so freaking extreme – you only need to compare Drunk Me with Sober Me to see that these are two completely different people. The basics are the same because obviously they’re both me, but the approaches are wildly different. No, you’ll probably never be able to call me lagom or a fan of the middle gears but I’ve massively chilled out, THAT you can be sure of.

Cherokee actually mentioned how someone else she knows who’s in recovery talked about the addictive brain or personality, which I suppose is at the core of this. Why this need to put your foot on it all the time. Why not cruise and enjoy the view? This is what the insights offered by the fabulous Feeling seemed to be saying too and indeed she did recommend a book on the subject of the addictive brain that I will get a hold of. Another piece of the puzzle seems to be slowly falling into place here. So on the table in front of me I now have:

  • My unfortunate reaction to booze when I take the first drink so that I guzzle my way to black-out.
  • The illusion I had of booze and the things I thought it was (glitter).
  • The frantic, obsessive urge to enhance and magnify a good feeling, or rather the strange inability to enjoy it just the way it is.

It’s not a clear picture that’s emerging but it’s interesting as fuck and I am so excited about learning to understand this slightly complicated creature I seem to be. Oh, hold up girl! Less of the narcissism there. I’m just a human being. But you know what I mean. This is absolute gold dust to me. Or glitter, if you will. This might just be the foundation course that all you sober heroes figured out ages ago but this really is a real revelation for me and an angle I hadn’t thought of. As always, I’m super keen to hear other people’s views so if you want to follow Feeling’s lead here, feel more than welcome to deliver more thunderbolts. Or stuff to make me go uh-huh. S’all good.

Today I’m not going to drink.

A Delicate Balance

This is interesting… I often create little conversations between Drunk Me and Sober Me – partly because I never want to lose sight of how bat shit crazy all that stuff is, but also because it’s sort of terrifying and fascinating. It turns out I can’t go and stay with Kitten, my depressed friend, after all – my bosses can’t give me the time off so there’s nothing much I can do. I had everything lined up – flights, trains and everything else – but it can’t be done and it’s out of my control. I feel bad, obviously, but trying my best to be there for her as much as I can when I’m actually thousands of miles away. I’m asking advice from friends who know more about depression than I do, or rather people I know who have gone through what Kitten is going through. It’s so hard to know how I best support her. Part of me just wants to shower her with kind words and encouragement, but I also don’t want to cheer her on when I feel she’s putting herself in potentially really bad situations. The other part of me doesn’t want to make everything much worse by telling her OH HELL NO, GIRL. I’m desperately trying to be gentle and loving, yet honest. It’s a delicate balance to negotiate.

In a lengthy exchange, I found myself asking Kitten to read her own words to me as though it was someone else’s. It was with regards to a recent decision she made and made me think of my conversations with Drunk Me. She agreed that it wasn’t a good thing but of course the illness has kidnapped her brain and what she is trying to solve is actually the Devil’s own fucking equation. In so many ways, there are parallels with alcoholism and I guess addiction in general too. Your reasoning goes out of the window and you’re stripped of all capacity to make sound judgments and good decisions. I immediately felt oh shit did I sound harsh or did I just make her feel really stupid or small or just generally ten times worse than she already did?

I suppose honesty is the best way though, or in any case the only way I know when it comes to this. I explained that my wish is only for her to get well and feel better and if I come across as mean it wasn’t my intention. I also asked her to yell at me if I don’t get it right or support her in a way that doesn’t work for her.

What a frightening, dark and fucking awful bitch depression is though – and from within! Bet Kitten would LOVE to have the choice – albeit difficult one – that I had, i.e. something resembling at least an opportunity to STOP. I’m not at all saying that what alcoholics need to “learn” is that the solution is to stop because clearly it isn’t always as straight forward as that, FAR from it, but I would imagine that Kitten would gladly go through any withdrawal and any number of 12-step meetings if chances were she could recover.

What are your views on depression? How would you support a friend who suffers? Any do’s or don’t’s?

Today I’m not going to drink.

Hot Heads and River Banks

Something really cute happened Saturday at paintballing. Bambino is an only child and so hubby’s two boys aren’t just the jackpot win and massive cherry on top for me, but also for Bambino who ended up with two older brothers as part of the deal. Now, the fiery temper and short fuse in our modern day family portrait are largely catered for by yours truly. Hubby is the most well balanced and measured person in the world. I’ve never seen him lose his rag or freak out. Get angry? Sure, but VERY rarely and never in a scary or disproportional way. Things just don’t rumble him, the whole world could be on fire and he would stay pretty chilled and calmly work out how to approach the problem in a logical and rational manner. My bonus sons aren’t hot heads either, clearly a perfect mix of their chilled dad and gentle mum. Yesssssssssssss she’s nice. There, I said it. *sigh* Hubby’s ex-wife is quite lovely. Divorce doesn’t bring out the best in anyone and yes there are stunts that were pulled that I’ll never understand, but the past is the past and when she isn’t busy with warfare and destroying her ex-husband, she is very sweet. Anyway!

There they were, deep into their last game of paintball and suddenly Bambino gets into an open area and is pelted with shots. As instructed, he holds his hand up to signal he’s been shot and therefore out, but some guy kept shooting at him. Now, the rest kind of happened in slow motion. Bonus #1 loses his shit. He stomps over in a few furious strides, shoves Bambino in behind him and tears the guy a new arsehole.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? HE HAD HIS HAND UP! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU STILL SHOOTING AT HIM, HE’S A KID!

I can tell you this much – the reason why I teared up a little wasn’t because someone hit my kid with a few paintballs.

And what does this have to do with sobriety? The answer: everything. This is an example of the feels, and when you’re sober you get to feel everything at maximum capacity and in technicolour, surround sound too. It’s pretty cool. Drunk Me would have been touched at Bonus #1’s brotherly display towards my son too, but my emotions would have been muddled and slippery and not vibrant and focused like they are when I’m sober.

Something just came over me. I never considered myself a masochist but I did this – precisely this – the last time hubby was away as well. I looked out of the window just now and it’s yet another one of those beautiful autumn days that I love so much. I’m feeling happy and free and at peace. Hubby away and now would traditionally be JUST the sort of time I’d be excited about drinking. Why do I do this? I quite literally just deliberately tried to feel – or remember how it used to feel – excited about having a drink. I deliberately just tried to make myself feel it. What fucking sort of Russian Roulette did I just come up with? Gosh, that was a risky little exercise! Make no mistake – I don’t think for a second that I’ll ever be “cured” or safe from alcoholism. Even having worked so hard at understanding what alcohol was for me and taking it all apart, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to declare I conquered the Beast. I may have fought it off but it’s alive and kicking and I’ll always have to keep an eye on it. Random, but that’s what just happened in my head and all it took was for me to look out the window and see what a beautiful day it is. So many reasons to let it remain a beautiful day and the good news is that at this stage it would seem that even when I try to play with fire, my brain won’t quite accept that drinking would be a good idea. Phew. That was a really, really stupid thing to do.

Does anyone else do this? Deliberately tempt fate?

Near to where my mother lives is a little power station. It’s got that sort of huge barrier mechanism that opens and closes to control the water flow, basically it’s a dam. Fuck me, I think about this now and it actually makes me go a little cold. I recall it’s time controlled but I could be wrong – I don’t know if it opens automatically at set times or if someone has to get down there to do it – but that’s almost what makes it worse because we didn’t know at the time when it might open. We used to, with terror tingling our spines, crawl across the top of it. Had it opened when one of us was on it, we would have been swept down by a crushing mass of water into the stony river bed far below. Other times we climbed down the river bank and hopped along the stones in the shallow water. Had it opened when we were down there that would have ended badly also. Shit, it makes me shiver to think about it. Almost as stupid as an alcoholic deliberately trying to conjure up romantic illusions of booze.

Well. I guess that was today’s display of utter madness from me. Anyone else engaging in really fucking stupid behaviour on this fine Tuesday, I wonder?

Today I’m not going to drink.