When I began my recovery journey, it seemed to take forever to get to ten days sober and it was such a victory to see double digits. I was about to say “seems so funny now” but it actually isn’t – breaking free from addiction and throwing myself into sobriety was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done and when I was sure I wouldn’t make it to the end of the week, ten days was absolutely HUGE in a way that is still definitely UN-funny. Please smack me in the mouth if I ever tell someone newly sober “aww” or something else patronising when I’m told they’re on day 10. OK?
However, as with anything that requires effort to begin with, it gets easier as you get the hang of it. Just like running. Those first few runs are a freaking shit show and there is nothing pleasant about them whatsoever, except the satisfaction once they’re over. Now, my morning run is as much of a highlight as my morning coffee. Sure, some days it’s a hard slog, but mostly it’s just something I do because I love everything about it and it’s a massive part of my self care. Point is though, I no longer check Runkeeper afterwards to check how many minutes I managed to run before I had to stop and walk. Now I check if my fastest kilometre was the 1st, 5th or 8th. Or what my max pulse was. Or how long the new loop was when I ran a different route through the park. It just happens now. A bit like my sobriety. A new normal. (I don’t need to add here that my new normal is fucking magnificent, do I? Thought not).
Well. Here we are and two and a half years of blissful sobriety later I’m not so acutely aware of how many days I’ve been sober. Just checked my ‘I’m Sober’ app and it’s 876 days. Anyway. Royal Ascot is on this week. Hubby loves horse racing so he was recording one of the races that he’d placed a bet on, and it dawned on me that Ascot was one of the few times I’ve had the urge to drink since getting sober. Two years ago we went, and as we pulled into the car park and I saw everyone sitting around with their picnics and champagne flutes, it really did hit me. I immediately told Hubby (snitching on the Beast is a very good tool and Hubby is another!) and just sat through it, but it was there and it had absolutely grabbed hold of me. Funny. Yes, really, THAT is funny, as in “haha, those cravings are stupid, aren’t they?“. Remind me, if I ever get asked by someone newly sober to tell them with a knowing and mysterious smile that it’ll pass. Well. As long as you work on your sobriety and remain willing to throw everything you’ve got at recovery, that is. That’s the amazing beauty of it – it’s there if you really want it. Thrillingly easy and heartbreakingly hard at the same time.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the urge. I can’t remember the last time. Sometimes I deliberately try to tempt fate, which I do realise is fucking stupid, but even when I conjure up the most romantic drinking scenarios possible (like a summer evening by the river with Hubby) I just land at the same conclusion: WHY IN GOD’S NAME WOULD YOU WANT TO FUCK THAT UP WITH BOOZE? That’s nice. Not a time to get cocky though. Not at ten days, not now at 876 days and not if I sit here in 20 years still sober. Yep, Beast sitting pretty in its cage but it remains unlocked and if I start to assume the Beast will just stay there without me keeping a bit of an eye, I’ll be screwed. No, I don’t go around looking over my shoulder expecting my addiction to pounce out from the shadows and destroy me at every turn, but I’m vigilant. Just like I am when I go for a run. The park is full of deer and make sure I don’t get too close because, after all, they’re wild animals. I’m not fearful or preoccupied with it, just mindful. Just like I am with my recovery. Mindful. Look both ways before crossing the road. Doesn’t stop me going where I want and doesn’t dampen my mood – just good sense, that’s all.
I don’t know where I was going with this, other than to once again repeat what I always seem to be saying – thank God I’m sober and thank God for the life I now get to have because of it. Unbelievable. Someone pinch me. Hubby has a sober wife, Bambino has a sober mum, my parents have a sober daughter, my siblings have a sober sister and oh ehm gee the list goes on. And then what I get to have. Some things scare me stupid and I do get fairly frequent visits from my brain troll anxiety with regards to the counselling studies, but because I’m sober I can face that too. Would NEVER have happened if I was still drinking. Partly because I would be dead by now, but if I’d somehow survived I wouldn’t even consider a course like that. OR leaving the house unless it was on fire. And if I was still drinking and my house was on fire, I would probably have caused that fire by beginning to cook in black-out and forgetting all about it or passing out. Hah! You can really see it when you play the tape forward, can’t you. Hmm, what might happen if I drank today? I can honestly not find a single good reason. I can’t even find a tiny little reason that is a smidge better than terrible.
Yep. Sobriety is a gift. A precious one.
Today I’m not going to drink.