Why not start with a comparison? I’m normally a dash-grab’n’go kind of shopper but it’s usually considered sensible to do a bit of weighing up before we make decisions, and I do like to often remind myself of the countless ways in which sobriety has transformed my life. Actually, I don’t have to remind myself at all – it just happens, and it happens ALL THE TIME because it’s so in my face I’d have to be comatose not to notice. Ah, and there it is immediately! A sense of gratitude so powerful I tear up and gasp as laughter bubbles up in me. Just this moment, that’s all it took. I just looked up and out through the window. It’s actually quite a yucky day, rainy and miserable. And I weighed myself for the first time since forever and expected to see the final verdict beginning with 6. Oh no, 75! 75 fucking kilos! I’m furious, that’s just RUDE. So anyway. It’s raining and also it turns out I’m fat. And yet, being sober – free! – makes me so happy I just laughed out loud like a crazy person.
It’s the comparison, that’s what makes me want to jump up and down and shout hallelujah.
Drunk Me: Like clockwork, wake up at 4am because my heart is trying to beat itself out of my chest. Or give a final, furious drumroll and give up. I never know which. Lie awake with anxiety, guilt, shame and regret throttling me until the alarm goes off a couple of hours later. Glance at my phone and pray to God I didn’t speak to anyone last night or posted something stupid on Facebook. Crouch in the shower. Can’t have coffee because it makes me too dizzy to drive. Plan every last little move in order to make everything less painful. What route to work will mean I’ll avoid the most right turns? By midday it’ll be a victory if I’ve managed to complete a couple of tasks but they’d have to be something that doesn’t involve phone calls: listen, process, relay correct information, take notes and action simply not possible.
Sober Me: This morning I wake up and it’s still dark. Desperately need to pee and hop out of bed on steady feet, hoping it’s at least 5.30am so I can just get up and throw myself into the day. It’s 6.20am – perfect! Sexy Hubby is all gorgeous and toasty and his voice in that lower octave as he mumbles good morning and calls me ‘cutie’ as his gaze follows me when I round the bed and head to the bathroom. By the time he’s showered ten minutes later I’ve made the coffee and applied for a couple of jobs at local cafes. Then I shower – standing up and able to close my eyes and turn and stuff, super cool – and then we head to the hospital for him to have the dressings on his shoulder removed. Since then, I’ve been to the Swedish shop and picked up Bambino from the station coming back from his dad’s, and I’ve stormed through a big chunk of the care certificate e-learning course too.
That’s not hectic, is it? Yet the morning I’ve just had has been more productive than any one WEEK over the 12-13 years I drank heavily. Gosh, it feels good. And so here I am, propped up against pillows on our bed with my laptop, occasionally glancing out of the window at the rainy Monday outside and I’m so happy I feel borderline religious.
State of affairs: time to start living this life I’ve been given but been so reckless with. I’ve pinged the manager at the rehab… ..need a nickname, let’s go with Beethoven because that’s a film with a St Bernard dog in it and he reminds me of one – calm, authoritative and well, dogs are nice, loyal and dependable creatures, aren’t they? He strikes me as all those things. So I pinged Beethoven and I’m heading over for my induction tomorrow! This is it now! For this chick who has spent her life talking about all the tomorrows… Uh, actually – it IS tomorrow, but what I mean is that it’s booked and the wheels are now finally in motion.
Not going to lie, this is all very daunting. Friday afternoon when I’d left the job for the last time I did feel as positive as I do now, but also a little lost and scared. You know, a bit like I’d cut all strings and now there was really nothing between me and the big unknown anymore. I still need to line up a little job so I have some sort of income until Beethoven discovers I’m Wonder Woman and they can’t possibly be without me or risk losing me to another place and therefore need to pin me down and get me on the payroll, right? Jokes aside, I felt unsure and for a moment there all those thoughts pushed their way in. Mainly one, actually: WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE YOU SILLY TART?
So I did what any rational person would do when feeling a little uncertain – I went to see a clairvoyant. Splendid decision making if I may say so myself! Why not part with £40 when I don’t know when I’ll have a pay cheque next, to see a lady with pink hair and her spirit guide ‘Many Feathers’ who, by the way, I couldn’t see but who apparently was there too. I know, I know – I’m precisely the sort of person, mostly due to my naive and emotionally charged nature, who’d be easily fooled by someone making a living by taking clever guesses based on your subtle reactions. Along with a stack of tarot cards, there was also a little indian chief figurine on the table and it fell off several times. I worried this was a bad sign. Perhaps the spirits were telling me they knew I’m a drunky-drunk by making the little dude tumble off like that and were already pissed off with me?
To be honest, although I do believe there is more to this world than what we can see and understand or what science can show us, going to see this lady was actually something Hubby and I had talked about before because it seemed like a fun thing to do rather than any serious wish to be guided by spirits. And if you get someone really good, right, it’ll be fascinating to see what they pick up on given you’re bound to get a gazillion charlatans who are probably nothing more than really skilled bullshitters. So I was honest with her and said I was just really curious and that’s why I was there.
It did start with what I reckon was one of those clever guesses. She probably clocked my wedding ring, guessed my age and told me the spirits were showing her a baby. The guess would have been either I want to have them or I’m trying or struggling to conceive and going to a clairvoyant is a desperate attempt to get the answers nature and science are currently failing to provide. I told her no, not having one and nor am I trying or wanting to. But then a curious thing happened. She asked me to shuffle the deck or tarot cards (or at least I think that’s what they were – they all had images and a few words on them symbolising various things), then proceeded to spread them out face down on the table between us. I was then instructed to hover my hand over them and pick out 13 cards where I felt drawn to them, maybe even by a change in temperature. I swear on Bambino’s life, the cards at one end of the table seemed to be radiating ice cold air – not even a subtle difference you might imagine but full on WHOA – so picked most of my cards from there.
Because of the baby thing, I’d decided to give nothing away and so when she began to turn the cards over and relayed what the spirits were telling her, all I said was OK or uh-hm. Perhaps she’s a con artist and she just completely fooled me, but even if she is – hats off to her. There were things she could not have guessed because let’s face it, I’ve not yet had PISSHEAD tattooed across my forehead or got that DRUNK4RD number plate for my car. It was interesting to say the least and whether she conned me or truly had Many Feathers & Co communicating with her and guiding me, I walked away smiling and safe in the knowledge I’m on the right path and all is well.
No, I don’t need a clairvoyant to tell me it’s a good thing I’m sober. But it was nice and actually exactly what I needed to hear that there is an illuminated path for me now, that my life is like a diamond that’s had all its facets cleaned up (I like that metaphor a lot), that I’m destined to help others and had to go through my journey to do so and oh, I’ll be writing books! Phew – good to know, at least I can relax about that now, eh. I hope this isn’t some kind of deal where you have to agree to all of it? I’ll take the books but no baby, OK.
Unfortunately she didn’t say the spirits saw skinny me anywhere along the illuminated path ahead, but hey. I’ll take all these 75 kilos and will keep on fighting to wake up sober so that looking out at a rainy Monday is all it takes to make me laugh with joy. Now off to have Bambino’s braces fitted, then back to the care certificate course, bake a stash of cinnamon buns (hence the trip to the Swedish shop for fresh yeast, and OK, tonnes of sweets) and later this afternoon I intend to go for a long run. I love running in the rain. I love rain, full stop.
Today I’m not going to drink.