One Year Sober

Ever since this day was starting to finally come into view, I’ve been looking forward to it so much because I couldn’t wait to get here. Yesterday – the last day of my first sober year – a million thoughts were going through my mind. Every so often amongst all the blogs I read, someone might write a post about a milestone and the insights and discoveries they’ve made along the way. Honestly, even MONTHS back I’d often think about what I might have to say myself, also wanting to have something really awesome to share that might help someone else in turn in the same way as it’s helped me so much to hear other people’s stories and thoughts.

Nope, this isn’t that sort of post. Sorry!

Yes, today is a hugely important day to me. It marks the anniversary of the most important decision I’ve ever made in my whole life. Without this decision, there wouldn’t BE a life. Now there is. And I am happy. Happier than I have ever been. No joke. And I wouldn’t have a drink if you paid me. Possibly only if it was to quite literally save someone from dying, but then it’d have to be someone I’d be willing to die for because drinking would kill me – that’s where drinking would lead. You get where I’m going with this though. I’m happy and sober is a fucking awesome place to be – there’s cake here! And a unicorn bag containing a card and presents from my Hubby aka the man with the perfect bottom (fiiiiiine, he’s witty and smart too).

Hubby is away with work and had recorded a little video greeting that I discovered waiting for me on WhatsApp this morning. Too cute. He’d got me a tank top that has “Sober AF” printed on it. ‘AF’ stands for Alcohol Free but I like to think of it as “Sober As Fuck” because I’m a bit immature.

Today is hugely important, but apart from cake for breakfast it was a day here and now in my life. And what dawned on me just a while ago when I was out for a run was that the HERE AND NOW is exactly where I want to be. Why? Because I found my stupid little brain thinking “oh, wouldn’t it be great if today’s run on this important day was super fast and super easy and super perfect“! My life and my attitude was always about all the things I will do if/when/if only/after/when I have/later and so on. Just like this anniversary, my sights were always on what might be just beyond the horizon. And that’s bullshit, actually. All I have is this moment, right here right now. And I love it here. I didn’t do lots today, in fact I did a bit less than I should have. I didn’t fly around the 6k loop like Mo Farah and my pace per kilometre was a bit crappier than my last run. And that’s what dawned on me: so fucking what. It’s here and it’s now and I feel fucking GREAT.

Oh, and I look a bit pretty because I went to the hairdressers so it’s one of those rare moments when my hair is all styled and bouncy into Hollywood-esque locks. Half the time I don’t even bother brushing it, so let’s enjoy that win for a moment as tomorrow it’s back to looking like the Lion King:

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Perhaps that’s the lesson I did learn in this first year of being sober? To be happy and content right here right now. Do you know what? I’ll take it. It seems like the greatest jackpot in the world to me.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Crazy Ass Dreams

A year ago today, I was in a very different place. I’d called in sick because I was too hungover to even stand up and I was consumed with guilt – for myself, for having lied to my bosses once again and despite texting with Hubby during the day not telling him I’d failed to get myself to work. I felt awful. Full of shame and full of anxiety. Much like the most other days over more than a decade leading up to it, I felt that shame and guilt burning a hole in me, not that it felt like there was much left to burn through.

It was a shitty place to be, that’s for sure.

Today, a year on, I’m in a place that is pretty much the opposite. I feel healthy and well, I have honoured all my commitments and I’ve been productive. There is no shame, guilt or anxiety eating away at my soul. My son’s eyes are glittering and I don’t have to see the sorrow I used to see there all those times he came home and glanced at the big glass of wine on the table in front of me. At four in the afternoon. Today I get a big hug from him when I tell him what the big cake and the single ‘1’ candle I bought is for.

I’m proud of you Mum“, he told me, “I’ll carry the cake in for you in the morning“.

What a sweetie he is. I think what he’s aiming for is the whole walking in with the cake and singing like you do on a birthday. Thank heavens for this boy of mine. There is nothing I can ever do to make up for what I put Bambino through, but at least I can show him I’m doing all I can to be the best me NOW. And always acknowledge and accept that what came before was unforgivable. The genuine happiness I see in his huge, blue, beautiful eyes now tells me I’m doing good.

Hubby has left me a gift bag that has unicorns on it. He is away with work, and to be honest not sharing tomorrow with him is the only negative I can find in the whole world right now. Sobriety has turned my world into a pretty amazing place, you see, the sort of place where dreams come true and where I can go after whatever crazy ass dream that I might have. What sobriety has shown me more than anything is that I’ve discovered that actually, all my dreams are true right in this very spot.

It’s been 364 days and I never thought I’d be able to say that tomorrow I’ll wake up to my one-year anniversary of being sober.

I’ll catch you then. Funnily enough it seems this last day of my first sober year is the one where so far the most thoughts around it all has been going through my head and I’m finding it hard to put into words what I’m feeling. There are many things – all wonderful – but there is one feeling right now that eclipses everything else: gratitude.

I can’t quite believe it’s real. Please God, always let me stay this way – sober.

Today I’m not going to drink.

17 Letters

Let me tell you something: it feels fucking awesome to take action. Being in recovery, as far as I’m concerned, means I’m recovering the person I am meant to be. That person is not the lethargic super lush who could barely string a sentence together that I used to be, but this person who is here now – Sober Me, or rather…. just ME.

Two days away from being able to say ONE YEAR SOBER I’m not just talking about all the things I will do: tomorrow or starting next Monday or next month or next year, and not if or when. Let’s go, bitches! Carpe the goddamn diem! Now, today, in this moment. And so I did carpe the diem, and why not on a sunny and bright Monday such as this? New beginnings are upon me and I’m not just sitting here waiting for life to happen to me. A year ago, the Beast whispered to me “you’re not strong enough to withstand the storm“. I believed it. Not in a million years did I believe that I’d be where I am now, almost at that milestone I never thought I’d reach.

Today I’m telling the Beast: I AM THE STORM and you’d better believe it, you motherfucker.

I thought it’d be scary, but I was smiling to myself as I was walking down the high street this morning. With me I had 17 envelopes containing my CV and a cover letter. 17 because that’s how many envelopes I had at home, by the way. I went into 17 places – cafes, a charity shop, a bookstore, clothes stores, a health store and a florist – handing in those envelopes marked for the attention of the manager. My cover letter starts with the words “I am starting over!” and briefly explains I am turning a leaf and looking to become an addiction counsellor and whilst volunteering and studying within this field I’m looking for whatever hours and shifts they may be able to give me. I haven’t done this since I was a student and I think part of me thought it’d feel a bit ridiculous and like a bit of a defeat but it felt GOOD. It felt good taking charge of my situation and take action in order to get back out on the pitch. No more warming the bench up for the star players whilst they go get it. Time to join the game, I’ve warmed up and stretched and I’m ready to go.

Sure, I’m a little scared having to leapt off the edge without really knowing where I’ll land but although I don’t know whether I’ll land in hot water or on dry land, I know that Sober Me will land on her feet.

Let’s go grab this beautiful, awesome life by the collar and start up some exciting shit damnit!

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Today I’m not going to drink.

A Little Bit of Grace

What an anticlimax. It would appear that at this point, at least, I have not been fired. Just a smile this morning and then my bosses left. I had my neck nicely and conveniently stretched out and ready to have the guillotine drop, but it’d seem having my last meal and final rites was a waste of time. Unless they were planning to come back and fire me. Point is I had no way of knowing and no matter how much I am to blame for not doing my job well (entirely) and how they’ve got every right and reason to be mightily pissed off with me (totally), that’s just odd so I put on my big girl pants and did what I think is right: I fired me.

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Whilst this is pretty scary and I’m so in knots I haven’t eaten, I’ve dealt with worse situations – much worse. I’ve dealt with much worse when I was drinking, for God’s sake, and found a way. Gosh, I look back now and sometimes feel quite proud of myself for managing to steer the ship through some pretty harsh storms. At one point I barely stopped to breathe – I had my main full time job, translation work in the evenings and then babysitting too during the weeks Bambino was at his dad’s. On top of that, I was also already down by some way on the slippery slope of accelerating alcoholism and still I came through and made a difficult situation work. I can deal with this, even if I have to stack shelves or serve coffee for a while – to be honest, when you make a career change you can’t always stroll straight into that shiny new job and that’s that, so even despite this unfortunate and unpleasant situation in my current role I would have been faced with some tricky decisions and unknowns. That’s life for you.

Frustrating, yes. I went in today with my heart in my throat not knowing what I was walking into. I felt weak with worry and like I was going to throw up or faint. Would I be yelled at? By Boss Lady alone or both? Or even more people around? A calm chat? Even a friendly chat? Being told off for the last thing I fucked up and just told to shape up? Or told to leave? Or even a cheerful “all sorted now, worse things happen at sea, let’s move on“? Any and every eventuality I was prepared for and I spent yesterday clearing my mind so that I’d be able to calmly apologise, take all shit thrown at me because I deserved it and gracefully accept my fate. I was steeling myself in order not to cry – I’m soft as shite and fall apart very easily, so I was going to save everyone the embarrassment of that too.

As horrible as it was to arrive, I’d made my peace with it all and felt quite calm about it. I “knew” I’d be fired and I also knew this was a good thing, however unpleasant. Still, it’s always shitty to have people be angry with you and so I did feel fucking awful. The feeling reminded me of when I for a very brief period of time was frozen out by my classmates at the age of 10. Funny – I think that was my fault too. Last night I was lying awake with palpitations and whatever sleep I did get was fitful and consisted of nightmares – a strange echo of what most of my nights were like when I was drinking. Perhaps the unknown is just really stressful no matter what your situation is. I didn’t know what to expect, but I guess I didn’t expect for nothing to happen. Oh, I wish I could accurately describe how awkward it was. My colleagues weren’t speaking to me at all, as opposed to how they usually stick their heads in the door to say hello and often have a little chat. Hey, it’s probably awkward for them too and I think they must know Boss Lady was furious with me yesterday, so I don’t blame them but the sooner we’re all put out of our misery the better. And so I made the executive decision to fire me.

It all reminds me a little of drinking. The easy way out would have been to just sit tight. They didn’t fire me so I could have just hung on a bit longer and waited for the axe to drop sometime in the future instead. Aka “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” – exactly how I used to defer dealing with my drinking problem, I knew it was there and it filled me with dread and I just pushed it further and further away into an endless string of tomorrows. Or do what I consider to be the right and honourable thing and deal with the issue without delay. Aka accepting the problem and facing it head on which is basically the attitude that got me sober. If you avoid dealing with things, you get the snowball effect. Ever made a snowman or a snow fortress? Well, you build those out of snow boulders. A snow boulder starts its life as a snowball. Just a standard, harmless little snowball. You then pack more snow on by rolling it in more snow, and it grows and grows as you push it in front of you. Well, I don’t need to clarify the analogy, do I? Ignore a problem or defer it for another time and all you end up with is a much bigger problem. That’s what I did with my drinking and how I’ve dealt with lots of problems. Firing me was throwing a nice little snowball for my bosses to catch. It was the right thing to do.

Wouldn’t it be absolutely infuriating if I’ve misread the whole thing? No, trust me – I haven’t. There is no way that this awkwardness and how people are avoiding me is all in my head. Because alcohol like many other drugs increases and creates paranoia (given it makes you anxious – paranoia often springs from anxiety), I have actually been in situations that I’ve completely misunderstood. There was one job I quit because it was a foray into search marketing and I just quickly discovered it wasn’t my thing, it just didn’t particularly interest me. But I had also convinced myself that I was terrible at it and expected my then bosses to be really pleased to receive my resignation. They weren’t. In fact, they took me to lunch and asked me to stay. I was so taken aback I think I spent most of the meal staring at them and not knowing what to say. One of them pulled up a campaign I’d created on his screen back in the office and said to me as the threw his hands up in a resigned and tired I-can’t-believe-this sort of gesture – “for God’s sake, Anna, just look how good you are at this!“. Again, I stood there and wondered what was going on because how come they didn’t hate me? I know what paranoia can do, but in my current situation there’s none of that. Just sayin’.

It is what it is and I’m very glad to close this chapter. Was I immediately filled with joy and blissful relief? No. It’s still a horrible situation and that sick feeling is still hanging in my chest like a thundercloud but it has now stopped growing. This isn’t some woohoo grab life by the horns diatribe either, I’m just basically outlining for you how I’ve made a dog’s dinner of the day job and how I’m now trying to at least have some grace and honour by doing what’s right. By quitting I’ve of course created other challenges but I can deal with them. I just need to remember who I am underneath – not the Anna who drank, but the Anna who knows how to work and how to work hard. The Anna who can turn things around. The Anna who can take responsibility and be accountable. The Anna I am recovering. I am, after all, in recovery and I’m going to be obnoxious and give myself a pat on the back here because as much as I’m the absolute dickhead in this situation, I’m actually quite proud of myself too. I didn’t race home and drink. Tomorrow morning and every morning thereafter I’m going to wake up clear and lucid and I’m going to find my way again.

It’s time for a new chapter now – it’s about time I get my arse in gear. I’m within touching distance of my one year sober and that’s awesome, but I need to turn my attention to the rest now. I had a bit of breathing space in order to focus on getting sober and I feel steadier on my feet now so it’s time to take on new challenges. Hah! Being out of a job is definitely a challenge. Do I even need to point out that this situation is something that I would have dealt with really badly if I were still Drunk Me? Gosh, cue wailing and sobs of despair! Instead here I am sober, mostly relieved and hopeful for the future. Yes, I still feel yucky too – I feel plenty yucky! – but the problem has stopped getting bigger and I’ve forced myself to deal with it. Now I need to put my money where my mouth is. Time to show my mettle.

I’ve done it before.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Knee Jerk Reactions and Silver Linings

Eek. Well, that made my stomach turn into a huge knot, that’s for sure. However, given I’m sober it didn’t knock me anywhere NEAR as much as it would have had I still been drinking. I must have mentioned I’m in a job I made a huge mess of. OK, not perhaps “huge” mess, but the first two years I was eyeball deep in addiction and when I got sober I haven’t tidied it up – something that should have happened but hasn’t. I have no excuses, I messed up. And so when I cocked up yet another thing, one of my bosses finally got cross with me. Ironically it’s one of the few things I’d actually tried my best with but I can see I’ve got it wrong, so when you take into account my lacklustre performance overall, she’s right to be fuming. We’re having “a chat” (read: “Anna, this is why I’m firing you”) tomorrow because she was too angry to speak to me today, saying it wouldn’t be constructive if she did. In other words, she was too wound up to even shout at me. Pretty bad.

You know, the first part I can explain. The fact that I managed to do anything at all those first two years I was with them (the last two years of my drinking) is a small miracle. The second part is what it is though and there are no excuses for that one. I’ve had plenty of time to clear this mess up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not disastrous or anything, more that everything is sloppily done, not followed through, no attention to detail. It’s insane really because those things I’m actually good at. I freaking LOVE detail, for God’s sake! Perhaps it seemed like I’d dug myself in too deep a pit to get myself out, I don’t know. I fucked this up, simple as that and when I had ample opportunity to get my shit together I just didn’t. In my mind I’d already checked out and this year has quite literally been a case of just sitting this out until I reach my one year sober (next Wednesday, yay) and can begin volunteering and getting some hours at the rehab I’m in touch with. I’m not proud of it but that’s all there is to it. Yes, it’s my damn responsibility to do the job I’m paid to do to the best of my ability. Did I? No. It’s shitty, it’s entirely my own fault and I’m going to be totally frank with Boss Lady tomorrow. No excuses. Time to bite the bullet.

Apart from getting fired, things are good!

Let’s stick with that yucky part though. I’m not going to lie, I felt sick (as well as taken aback as I wasn’t expecting it) when Boss Lady came in saying she was angry. Sick and when I got back to my desk even a little shaky. Well, being the reason someone is pissed off is never nice and any way you look at it I’m sensitive as fuck. Anyway, it didn’t take many minutes to calmly establish that I had this coming and I suppose it’s the kick up the backside I need. I’ve been treading water when it comes to the job. My focus has been on getting sober and what lies ahead, not what was on my list of responsibilities here and now. Unfortunately. It is what it is. Gosh, I’m trying so hard to not make excuses here so let’s just spell it out: I’ve been a little shit bag. Done a terrible job. Rested on my laurels. Now it’s time to get into gear.

Sobriety is cool because it allows me to be calm and rational. I’ve dropped the rehab a line to remind them I’m all theirs from next week in terms of hitting one year sober and getting on with volunteering. I also pointed out that in an ideal world I’d want paid hours just so they know I’m not just doing this to tick off “charitable actions” on my to-do list but actually very serious about getting into this field. Sobriety and being at my full wits in combination means I don’t feel so bad. Boss Lady getting annoyed with me would have taken up all my focus and totally devastated me had it been back when I was drinking. Sober I suppose I can see it for what it is and not be so panicked or horrified by it. I can’t change stuff that’s already come and gone, but I can choose how I deal with it and move forward. And sitting this out, as much as it’s allowed me to focus on getting sober, was perhaps a mistake as it’s going to be soul destroying for anyone to be in a job you could do in your sleep. That’s perhaps the most ridiculous part in all of this – there’s nothing about it that stretches or challenges me, and so doing it well wouldn’t have required much effort anyway. Well, there we are and time to get serious now.

Drunk Me would have been stressed out of her mind just about now, created a big drama and had at least half a dozen knee jerk reactions. Sober Me, not so much. This was coming all along and it was only a matter of who’d be the first to take the initiative – me or my bosses. I guess for the purposes of this sober blog, that’s the bit to really highlight. When we’re sober we can calmly deal with slightly unpleasant situations and find solutions – even silver linings! OK, so I can’t exactly say I’m looking forward to tomorrow but at the same time it’ll be good to have it over with – it’s been hanging over me for nearly a year. Not good for anyone. It’s the kick up the backside that I need. I said it myself, didn’t I? 2018 was the year I got sober, 2019 is the year to get serious and maybe I needed a little nudge. I mean, if I look back over how things are falling into place, this is just yet another piece that is slotting in nicely. It’s all happening for a reason.

Note to self: you’ve been a bit of a dick, Anna. Sort yourself out.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Play It Forward

I’ve always been a bookworm. Most of the time I have at least two books on the go, but most often three or four. Since I stopped drinking I’ve been devouring sobriety literature like a demon. Hey, I know! I know, I know, I know. I know it might seem like I’m really obsessive and compulsive, but guess what – when it comes to endorphins and nurturing my mind, I don’t think full throttle is a particularly harmful setting so I’m just going with it. I usually have a couple of books I alternate between at home and then another on Audible that I listen to during my drive to and from work. The sobriety books I’m reading are anything from drinking memoirs to fact heavy books on addiction and everything in between. Most recently, I’ve been listening to The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley, which is of the memoir variety and her style reminds me a little of Bridget Jones: it’s light, easy going and enjoyable. In fact, much better than poor ol’ Bridget as Pooley isn’t such a whinge bag and just strikes me as really charming. I think Bridget – as charming as she is – would do my head in very quickly, whereas Pooley I’d like to hang out with. The blog can be found here.

Anyway, I was reading some of Pooley’s most recent posts and in the comments section an expression I often heard in AA meetings was mentioned: “play the tape forward“. This is really good advice. We can all be clever when armed with that handy thing called hindsight, but playing the tape forward is all about foresight. It might seem like such a simple device, and I guess it is, but I wonder if it’s particularly useful in very early sobriety. It all comes down to understanding the Beast, I suppose and what the Serenity Prayer is all about too.

Let’s say if (or when) that pesky ping! pops in to my head and I suddenly really want to have a drink. My addictive brain might go on to show me glittering and romantic images of a sparkling spritzer by the river on a summer’s eve with my sexy husband or something like that – you know, one of my favourite drinking scenarios. My brain will do its best to show me the “good” parts of drinking, make me believe them and ultimately get me yearning for them. For an alcoholic like me, this is the time when it’s be useful – crucial and life saving, even – to play that damn tape forward. Because playing it forward means I have to confront those images that my addictive mind doesn’t want to know about – the binge drinking, the compulsion, the depths of addiction and the black-outs. Add all the other shitty things drinking brings too, which makes that tape go on for a very long time as they’re endless.

Right now, this seems to happen without much effort but I suspect there will be plenty of times when I’ll really have to remind myself of where booze will take me. What I’m saying is, that when I think about drinking, my brain immediately goes oh gosh no and plays a stream of crappy stuff to me. Right now, when I think of alcohol I think of the shit it will first cause me and then how it’ll kill me. That glass of wine and soda water doesn’t hold any of the promises I used to think it did, it just holds a deadly poison that only does me harm. I guess my inner cassette player currently has some sort of automatic mechanism that kicks in without me having to press play. Or forward, as it were.

Anyway, I just wanted to emphasise this because I think it’s a really good thing to do if we start to fall for the charms of the Beast. Because the Beast can be VERY charming. Like Bradley Cooper serenading you in his raspy voice as he’s strumming his guitar, then gets you out on the stage with him for a duet to thundering applause. Fucking awesome! Absolute magic. WAIT! Play the tape forward. It’s the bit where he pisses himself on stage you need to see. Or the heartbreaking garage scene. Uhm, I’m talking about the film, obviously – A Star is Born. Well, Cooper plays an alcoholic in it and it hits you right where it should, in solar plexus. Playing the tape forward is a good thing to do when we get sober because the Beast is as talented as Cooper and therefore it’s the end bit we need to keep sight of.

It’s astounding really. The downsides to drinking are so severe, so obvious and so immediate, yet in many cases we go on for years – decades, even – because all we allow ourselves to see is that first part. Somehow we close ourselves off to the dark reality of alcoholism and even when we’re in a really desperate state we still manage to convince ourselves that it’s somehow worth it. Trust me, I know. I look back now and shudder at where I got myself, yet I can assure you that I at the time considered myself pretty happy (and in truth, most of the time I was but addiction is addiction and it was breaking me down) and hardly ever knowingly poured myself that first glass with anything other than free will. I say “hardly ever” because there were indeed times when I did pour it and felt such sorrow, not understanding how I got there. Free will, my arse, yet that’s what I mostly believed. Those darker moments when reality came a’knockin’ I quickly knocked back the drinks to knock it right back to the back of my mind.

I hate to be a doom’s day prophet, but I fear there is very little we can do if our minds turn on us. For that reason, it’s good to have a bag of tricks and playing the tape forward is a good one to keep handy. Don’t give any thought to the first part and those lovely images, it’s the end destination you need to remember and it’s always the same one.

Today I’m not going to drink.

A Peaceful Day At Disneyland

Did I ever mention it’s really hard work being a drunk? I must have. Not just anyone can do it, you know – it takes some serious grit being an alcoholic. I imagine it’s less cumbersome working out how to have a peaceful day at Disneyland with 20 five-yearolds loaded on sugar than it is planning how to get through the day when you’re in active alcoholism. It’s not just all the stress of working out how to drink (where you’re getting the drink from, where and how to hide it, where and when to drink it, who to drink with and who to avoid) but also how to remain upright and somewhat able to go through the absolute minimum of motions during the day. Defer what you can, avoid anything more complicated than putting one foot in front of the other. And sometimes even that is a feat of champions, to be honest. I think the worst of it was to get through the hangovers, that painful part that were basically all the hours in the day when I didn’t drink. When I should have been living, really.

First off, I had the Hangover Kit and I’d buy these supplies usually at the same time as I picked up wine and soda:

  • Berocca (vitamin drink)
  • Resolve or Alkaseltzer (relieves headache, settles stomach)
  • Dioralyte (for rehydration – preferable to Resolve/Alkaseltzer as contains no caffeine)
  • Chewing gum (to disguise rancid wine breath)
  • Coconut water
  • Bananas

Obviously I was a seasoned drunk – a veteran, you might say – and quite often when it came to drinking I’d show signs of the organisational skills I very rarely display at work when I actually need them. Sometimes I’d have a glass of Dioralyte inbetween drinks during the drinking session itself in an attempt to rehydrate whilst dehydrating. Oh, it’s such madness! When else would I voluntarily do something really terrible to myself and simultaneously also try to mitigate the harm? It literally is like buying first a knife to repeatedly stab yourself with and picking up a medical kit to tend the wounds during the same shopping trip. FUCK ME. I don’t know if I want to laugh or cry – it actually makes me really fucking angry that I succumbed to this. But then wiser women than me have fallen before me, and wiser women than me will no doubt fall after me too. Unless I went into black-out (and let’s face it, in black-out anything can happen and I wouldn’t have a clue) I’d have a Berocca before bed too, in the pathetic hope I might feel alive in the morning.

The first step would be mixing a Berocca with Dioralyte and gulp down first thing. This was my idea of giving myself the best possible chance of surviving the day ahead. During the first half of the day I’d avoid coffee, despite morning coffee being one of my absolute favourite things in the world, because it makes me feel even weaker and dizzier when I’m hungover. Sometimes, if I had some coffee, I felt like I was swaying and vibrating – a sensation that is every bit as yucky as it sounds. I’d try to eat bananas and drink lots of coconut water – I think it was my friend Tumbler (who, incidentally and tragically drank herself to death) who advised me to ingest anything containing potassium. I recall her saying something about getting twitchy due to dehydration and something about potassium would help counter this. Save yourself convulsions really. It might all have been bullshit, the misguided and desperate attempts of us alcoholics to believe what we wanted to believe. Actually, it was the drinking that was bullshit, but I guess I wasn’t ready to accept this at the time.

I doubt any of the things in my Hangover Kit made much of a difference, actually. I think, as with many other things, much of it was in my head. Like if I knew I’d had some Dioralyte, which contains salts and minerals you typically lose when you have a stomach bug and helps you rehydrate, I’d feel calmer knowing I’d had some, thinking I had replenished some of my body’s desperately depleted defences.

Oh, God – just writing this makes me feel tired, desperate and sad and I’ve put almost one year between myself and this sorry existence. I remember it so well, though. With every word I just typed I felt all of it, perhaps it’s muscle memory and my whole body remembers exactly how it felt. Well, my body spent long enough experiencing it, so figures I guess. Good riddance. Please God, never let me lose sight of why I stopped drinking. Never let me forget. I’ll be ever so good, if you just grant me that one wish. Eek.

As for now, I’m still revelling in the realisation of how sobriety so easily puts life right at my feet. I’ve been thinking lots about what I want to do with it, this life. Don’t get me wrong, I consider the spot I’m in a pretty damn sweet one and to be honest if I never have or do anything beyond what I have or do right now, I’ll die a happy woman. Even so, now that drinking isn’t confining me to a miserable groundhog day style life of endless hangovers, why not aim a little higher? Like, you know, dreams and stuff. My little aha-moment Friday night extended to another realisation that positively made me shriek with excitement. I decided that perhaps that first book I write can be found much closer to home – here. So I printed off everything I’ve written in this past very-nearly-one-year.

The average novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length. When I was trying to give writing a shot four years ago, I stalled and got stuck somewhere around the 50,000-mark. It just seemed such an arduous task, such an awful amount of work and never mind editing and reshaping and reworking the whole thing over and over. As I always did when I was drinking, I fizzled out and that half baked, half completed first draft is still gathering the proverbial dust on my hard drive. I figured that if I ever decided to write about drinking and sobriety (not that I’m a sobriety ninja – I’ll forever be a work in progress on that score), perhaps there might be some stuff from this blog I could use. I doubt there’ll be anything I could just lift, but certainly plenty of material by way of subject matter (even like this when I’ve written about hangover strategies) that I might be able to knock into shape. Well. I decided to print off the whole damn thing so I can read through it all armed with some highlighters and sticky page markers. I was going to do this when I hit the one year sober anyway because I want to look back on this past year and relive it.

book

When I was done printing I had a HUGE, thick pile of paper. 400 pages of single spaced lines of words, words, words. I checked the word count. 260,000. And there it was again, sobriety placing a huge lightbulb right in front of me. Without even thinking about it and with no actual effort or having to make time, I’ve written three novels’ worth in this past year. No, no – I know, it’s just my blog musings and nothing I could ever publish, but it showed me how it’s entirely do-able to knock out this amount. Attempting to write a book is obviously a whole different process – plan the structure, fine tune the archs of the story I want to tell and craft each sentence carefully and then go over it another ten times. But still. That pile of paper containing MY words really showed something to me that I needed to see.

I can do this. I can so totally do this. I can do this because I’m sober.

Today I’m not going to drink.