Excuses and Whining

Happy Monday to you! Without actually going through a calendar and carefully counting, this is roughly the 54th Monday I go into a week sober. Sober and HAPPY, I hasten to add. I often think about what it might have been like if I’d found sobriety to be a difficult and shitty struggle. Like dieting – can’t do it. Cut down on coffee – won’t fucking do it. A post on another blog spurred these thoughts just now. I have endless admiration for anyone who successfully loses weight by dieting and I would love to be one of those cool people any day of the week. I suppose I just don’t want it enough to actually agree to any food restrictions. Would I feel – and behave – differently if my eating was causing me problems? I guess I’d be forced to. You’d need to have a pretty disastrous relationship with food to still chomp down donuts (or cinnamon rolls in my case) if it’d aggravate some serious condition like diabetes or keep/get you so overweight it’d damage your heart etc. Never thought I’d give up alcohol but then I did get to a point where I knew it was destroying me, so it wasn’t exactly a case of cutting back on a bit of over indulgence. No, in my case you can’t make the comparison between food/coffee and alcohol.

Food: I do eat like a trucker. Sure, I’d love to be a little slimmer but my weight isn’t causing me health issues and actually, I’m OK and I exercise too. My BMI is just about within the healthy range I think, although I base this on pure guess work given I never weigh myself.

Coffee: I drink the stuff like a demon. I’m sure it’s healthier to never have caffeine but as of yet it’s not had any negative effects that I know of. I can quite happily drink coffee late at night and still sleep like a baby.

Alcohol: I was putting away a staggering amount on a daily basis and spent my days in a hungover haze. It stopped me functioning and had started to really accelerate in a downward spiral. When you regularly wake with furious palpitations and genuinely worry that your number is finally up, your drinking has long surpassed over indulgence.

Food and coffee aren’t at this stage attempting to kill me. Alcohol most definitely was. Plus I need food to live – food, assuming you don’t have an eating disorder or other problems relating to what you can have, is healthy and enjoyable. Although I’m tempted to differ, coffee isn’t strictly speaking needed for survival, but it does have genuine positive attributes such as its taste and how it perks me up. Alcohol has none of those things – it’s never healthy (not even in moderate amounts), it tastes foul and there is nothing enjoyable about how I used to drink. It’s a pointless comparison, all of it. Alcohol for me was in the end a choice: drink and die or stop and live. Dramatic? Not really.

This morning at work Lady Boss popped in for a chat. We’ve not seen each other since the week I gave my notice, which is now almost a month ago and this week is my last. I worried it’d all be really awkward but she was as lovely as always and just asked what I’m doing next. I told her I’m looking to pursue a career in the recovery services.

Oh?” she went and looked a little surprised.

I guess it’s not the most common career choice. There was no natural break or place in conversation to elaborate on why but it did make me wonder if she’d been surprised to know I’m an alcoholic. I’ve always sort of assumed they’ve just always thought of me as a bit thick. They’re bright people so if anything I’d be a little shocked if they had never wondered why I was always so muddled and slow to understand stuff, but given I even managed to hide the full extent of my problem to Hubby I suppose it isn’t all that strange. In a way, I wanted to tell her, but it just wasn’t that sort of conversation and she’s busy enough with everything else – it’s just me and my non-existent filter. Like Hubby always says: THEY DON’T CARE. Not my bosses personally as such or because they’re mean or horrid but because it’s totally fucking irrelevant and doesn’t need yapping on about or being brought up. I didn’t do a good job there, period. I’ve fired myself, period. Let’s move on, period.

It’s my own pride that makes me want to tell my bosses, now that I think about it. I somehow want them to know simply because I like them and if they know why it was the way it was they may think of me with a bit of fondness rather than have me written off as that useless person who worked for them for a while. Perhaps I want to tell them because of my guilty conscience? Would it perhaps make me feel better if people thought “no wonder she didn’t perform” rather than “what an utterly useless cow“.

Holy fuck, what’s happening here? Now I want to tell people I’m an alcoholic because that’d make them more likely to like me? Or less likely to totally hate me, rather. That’s just too hilarious, no? This thing that I was terrified to say for over a decade is now my trump card? Dear, oh dear.

No. No need. It is what it is and it’s time to move on. And along with closing the door on the past and the drinking, I also need to leave behind this ridiculous obsession I have with what people think of me. So fucking what? It is what it is and I can only do my best with what I have. I’m out of the woods now, I feel a lot more solid in my sobriety and it’s time to find my little place in the world. If I keep looking back it’ll consume me and drive me mad. What next? Will I contact every single person I’ve had any interaction with during the 12-13 years I drank heavily, explain everything in maddening detail and apologise in the hope they’ll think I’m a great chick after all? It’s so stupid I’m making myself feel quite exhausted – I made a pact with myself to take responsibility and own this, and that doesn’t involve pointing at a bunch of excuses and whining about poor lil’ ol’ me. Fuck’s sake.

Gosh, this turned gloomy, didn’t it? It shouldn’t be because it isn’t. The way to look at it is this: yep, I let my bosses down but I’ve now done them a favour. Telling them I was eyeball deep in addiction would just make things unnecessarily awkward and what are they going to do with this information anyway? Grow the hell up, Anna. I finish up as best I can and then everyone moves on. I’m sober and I’m happy. I’m moving in a direction where I know I can be of great value – I’ve got my own experience and I’m a kind person with oodles of empathy, surely those things in themselves are a good start? I’m in a good place and it’s all very exciting actually.

In other news, Hubby’s shoulder operation went well and I managed to get him home in one piece. Just a bit sore and uncomfortable, but they didn’t have to touch the rotator cuff (which would have meant four weeks in a sling) so it’s just a matter of taking it a little easy. Oh, actually – here’s a dark little thought for you: there was a fleeting thought sailing through my addict’s brain about his painkillers. I had the same ones when I had surgery a year and a half ago and they were LOVELY, got me all woozy and drowsy and it was a really nice feeling. Just a small little thought oh, wouldn’t that be quite nice that actually I would never have acted on, but it was there and I was aware of it. Oh, hell no. Go from severe alcoholism to munching prescription pills? I fucking think not. But this is sort of my confession booth and I thought I’d share because it struck me as both horrifying and interesting. How easy it would be, you know. And how appealing it was to my mind to switch off a little, get all doped up. Worry not, I honestly wouldn’t, but I do enjoy discussing the mad shit my crazy mind cooks up sometimes. I do have a stash of Diazepam in the cupboard, that my doctor prescribed me by way of calming me down during longhaul flights (massive steel tube weighing hundreds of tonnes staying in the air – tell me how) and I’ll sometimes think oh yeah, that’d be quite nice. Especially those nights – very few these days now that I’m sober, it has to be said – when I can’t sleep, you know it’d be quite nice to have the light switched off for you, but no. Just no. Honestly no. But hey, there we are and I think I’m pretty on top of which thoughts I allow to become actions.

It’s been 384 days. I feel freaking awesome and I’m so grateful I can’t even begin to tell you. Willow hit her three years sober and did some trapeze thing to celebrate, I saw the little clip she put on Facebook. I got to know her about a year ago and I remember thinking how amazing that she’d managed two years at that stage. I was of course still at a point where I didn’t believe I’d last even a month. So 384 days feels really fucking good, lemme tell ya.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Floss Success Stories

Do you have favourite or least favourite days of the week? Perhaps I’m just weird, but I’ve always disliked Wednesdays. Today is Thursday and Thursdays I’ve always liked. I’m not sure if I have any solid reasons, but back at school and college Wednesdays always seemed to be the longest and had double lessons in the heaviest and most boring subjects. I don’t know if that’s where it comes from. Anyway, it’s Thursday and that’s one of my favourites. This particular one is on my countdown of my job, today being number six as I’m off tomorrow and then it’s just next week. Time for reflection on this? Well, I’ve been in the job for three and a bit years. My bosses are lovely people and there is nothing bad to say about the job itself. The first two years I was still drinking heavily and therefore barely functioned to a minimal degree. This past year I’ve been sober but quite distracted and just keen to close the door on my old life now. Had it all been a success story if I’d never sunk into alcoholism? Maybe. Maybe not. If I’d never been an alcoholic, perhaps I would never have worked there at all? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter because it belongs in the past with all that other stuff. I can’t sit here and regret stuff or beat myself up any further, it is what it is and now is the time to move on and really start living. And what a great day to be alive – Thursdays totally rock!

I have another 47 envelopes ready – containing my CV and a cover letter – to hand to the managers at various coffee shops and stores around where I live. The last time I had 17 of those, because that’s how many envelopes we had at home. Yesterday I bought a pack of 50 but I ended up with 47 because I messed three up. No significance to the number.

Something struck me yesterday and it might be one of the biggest things about sobriety and what it’s given me: time. There is so much of it!

Actually, it became obvious straight away when I stopped drinking. I got home from work and really felt at a loose end. Now what? What do I do? Normally I’d pour that first big glass of wine before I’d even taken my shoes off and then off I went. I’d be forced to do the things you can’t not do, like cook dinner, nag Bambino to do his homework and make sure all his uniform was washed and ready. Work would be the same – I’d show up and I would kinda do the minimum. Hubby had quite a fun but also messy and unpredictable wife, so I’m not going to deny there were lots of nice times because there were, but oh my goodness is it different now! It’s absolutely insane how all my time went on drinking – suffering horrendous hangovers and operating on autopilot, preoccupied by planning my drinking or, uhm, drinking and only paying attention to just that.

Yesterday I picked up some things on my way home from work – some bits from the supermarket and aforementioned envelopes – and back home I had a nice little chat with Bambino for a while, then cleaned the apartment, made dinner and then welcomed Hubby home. We sat on the couch chatting for a good hour or so before bed. Before bed, I washed my face and used my fancy night cream and some serum that’s meant to make me look younger or something. I never did this when I drank. OK, the leopard hasn’t completely changed its spots – I still use regular hand soap or shower gel to wash my face, but the point is I do it before bed too and not just during my morning shower. Perhaps this Sober Year Numero Dos can be the year for proper face wash and toners or whatever those things are – all in good time. When I drank, I didn’t do this. Too much effort. I feel a bit embarrassed to admit I skipped a part of personal hygiene all my adult life! It’s true though – I always went to bed without washing my face. It feels so good to do it now! It makes me feel virtuous and actually, it does make a difference. I’ve sadly not turned into some dewy skinned wonder, but I think there’s a huge difference. The biggest difference isn’t down to any hygiene routine or cream – my skin is looking healthier because I’m not drinking aka poisoning myself. But I’m not trying to make a point about how stopping drinking is a really great beauty regime – even though it most definitely is! – but rather about how I do so much more now and how good that makes me feel.

I don’t think anyone could look at my afternoon yesterday and accuse me of being busy. When I first got home, I had a little horizontal time on the couch reading blogs and browsing news articles. Sure, I cleaned the place and had a nice talk with Bambino, but between cleaning and making dinner I went horizontal for a while again. Then I typed up a new cover letter, printed off a bunch and signed and sealed those 47 envelopes. I’m hardly super woman. Had planned to go for a run but didn’t bother. No, I’m not an over achiever or crazily productive super mama. Yet, on a bog standard and very average afternoon Sober Me is worlds apart from Drunk Me. All that stuff would be inconceivable to Drunk Me. No joke. Even the fact that I floss most mornings is way beyond what Drunk Me could have coped with.

Time! There’s lots of it and I make use of it! Even with horizontal lazy breaks, I still do so much more than Drunk Me could even imagine.

It’s quite funny now when I think back on about a year ago, when Sober Me was all brand new. Hubby and I went for long drives to pass the time! Of course initially it was also a matter of the habit itself – I was just so used to cracking open the wine when I got home and was a bit lost as I wasn’t sure what to do instead. When I think about Sober Me over those first few weeks, I’m filled with affection – it was all quite sweet really. “I’m going mad, let’s go! I have to get out or I’ll want drink!” I’d exclaim and literally grab Hubby by the coat sleeve before he’d even set his bag down coming home from work, then into the car and off we went. Ironically, we often ended up pulling in at some pub somewhere and I do remember how it was quite strange to have soda water with a slice of lime instead of wine, how I knew I didn’t want to drink but how aware I was of the urge to. Bit like Bambi on the ice is how I felt, I suppose.

It all came good though – the habit part was quite painless to break, as habits mostly are. If you’re used to taking a left out of the tube station to get to work, it’ll be slightly strange at first when you’ve changed jobs and have to go right. Once or twice you might even begin to go left and then have to remind yourself. But it really doesn’t take that much time or effort. And my day soon began to fill up with all the things I had abandoned in favour of drinking. I guess it filled up with living. Of course, when you’re present and not flat-out hammered, time also appears to pass more slowly because you’re not in a haze. Those long drives over those first few weeks were soon replaced with long walks. This was in part due to me putting on weight when I ditched the booze. Suddenly I discovered that, contrary to what I always believed, I actually do have a sweet tooth and began to inhale chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cake, ice cream….. And got a little squidgier as a result. Always did love being active even though boozing obviously stole that from me, so sober I threw myself into long, brisk walks, often around the whole park which is 10k. Didn’t get any thinner but whatever – it did me a world of good, as exercise does. Now I’m back into the running and what seemed like an unobtainable dream to Drunk Me is a pretty effortless reality for Sober Me – I head out every other day and even though I wobble along at a snail’s pace, I get around 7k without having to stop and walk. For Drunk Me, 5k was a lofty goal. For Sober Me, our 5.5k loop is the shorter one we do on Fridays just because it’s nice and easy. Talk about victories, folks! Yay sobriety!

Before you ask – no, I’m not getting any thinner. But I feel healthy and strong. And Hubby seems quite happy any time he sees me naked so my wobbly bits can’t be totally awful. Just saying as I feel it’s important to keep it honest and real, OK? I’m almost 43 and I’m not exactly what you’d see if you browse Instagram. There’s cellulite. There’s bendy flesh. There are wrinkles and little colonies of grey hair sprouting by my ears. No, not IN my ears – we haven’t quite got to that stage yet, come ON. I could do with a pedicure and I have hairy toes. BUT I FEEL FUCKING AWESOME BECAUSE I’M SOBER!! And I’m doing my best to be the best I can be.

My days are so productive now and it feels good to do stuff – whether it’s going for a run or just the fact that I washed my face before bed! I used to HATE having to do stuff, really hate it! Sobriety has given me all this time. When I drank I’d always talk about let’s do this or let’s do that, but then I’d be too zonked to actually do it due to debilitating hangovers. Now I talk about the things I want to do tomorrow, and when tomorrow turns into today I actually go and do them. It feels really good.

This Thursday is extra good because I’m not working tomorrow. Instead I’m on taxi duty as Hubby has a shoulder op. I may have to bite the bullet and get in his car instead as I drive a beaten up (and quite unreliable) old Mini. Hubby is quite a big bloke, 6’3 and well built, so on a good day he looks a bit like a Swiss knife when he gets in my car, long legs all folded up. After surgery it might be nicer for him to just be more comfortable and stretch his legs out a little. Nothing major, it’s a key hole shoulder op and he should be good as new within the matter of just a week or two but still. I’m actually more worried about getting him home – I would not be able to lift him or hold him up. This would be a good time to have a dinky little boyfriend, a short and very skinny little one and if he’s wobbly and stumbles I could just pull him up with one hand. If Hubby is wobbly it’s a problem – not just getting him in and out of the car but then up three flights of stairs too in our building which has no elevator. Hm, they won’t release him until he’s steady, right? Either way I suspect I’ll have to pull on my big girl pants and drive the bigger car. At least it makes beeping noises when you get too close to something.

Happy Thursday to you all!

DRUNK4RD Number Plate – Too Much?

I’m going to have to tread carefully here as what’s on my mind has been triggered by a situation a friend finds herself in, which is sensitive and I don’t want to add any grief where there is plenty already. Perhaps I don’t even need to mention that little vague part so perhaps I’ll just hop back up to here and delete this paragraph altogether, I dunno.

Here I am. I’m sober and I’m happy. Perhaps I would have been just as sober and every bit as happy right now even if I’d never created this blog. However, I haven’t discovered that parallel universe so I have no way of knowing for sure unless an alternative version of me who doesn’t blog appears and tells me how she’s doing. What I can tell you is that I can’t imagine being without this space of mine, this little corner of the blogosphere where I can voice how I feel, ponder sobriety and everything that goes with it, seek answers and share in other people’s journeys too. I can’t imagine being without YOU. You are mostly anonymous, often I don’t even know what you look like, where you live or your last name. I don’t know what you do for a living and I don’t know the name of the person who was the first to break your heart. What I do know, however, is that your insights, pearls of wisdom and kind words mean more than I can express.

I go on here, sometimes feeling lost or like an alien, and either someone will comment and let me know they’ve been there too or I read a post where someone else has been through the same thing. I go on here, sometimes feeling like I just slayed a scary dragon and someone will tell me I did good. I go on here and learn. I go on here and I take great care to show the same kindness and empathy to you too, wanting to show you I heard you when you felt down or cheer you on when you were victorious. I go on here knowing I can always be honest and it’s here that I feel safe and secure sharing things almost to the same degree I feel able to share my innermost thoughts with Hubby and my closest friends.

Another important aspect for me – and something that touches me so deeply I can’t describe the joy it gives me when it happens – are those tiny little instances when someone might say that something I wrote meant something or helped in some way. The reason why this makes me so happy and so deeply moved is because this is precisely what I come away with on a daily basis on here. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve read something someone else has written and felt better as a result – be it that I felt reassured, empowered, comforted, stronger, encouraged or just that I could relate and felt HEY, ME TOO!

Now, I do understand this is a public space. Of course. Anyone and everyone can happen upon this little space of mine and I have no control over who does – family, friends, employers or anyone who knows those people in turn and me by association. That’s true. Therefore I take care to not use anyone’s real name except my own, and I never post pictures of anyone other than myself with the exception of one of Bambino when he was three years old which no one could recognise him from anyway. Obviously, if say my mother read this blog, she would know the obvious players like Hubby and Bambino in real life, and she’d easily figure out who Cherokee is. If Poppy came on here, she would in all likelihood at the very least suspect it is her I’ve written about. But no one else would. I do take care in that way, mindful that I don’t hang people out to dry or expose anyone in any way that could POSSIBLY affect them. It is a public space after all and I am very aware of that. Still, I feel comfortable sharing in this way and I’m very, very attached to Storm and the little world I’ve found here. Fact remains though, that what I share is deeply personal. I make myself vulnerable and I open up. This is my choice and I am – as we all are on here – aware that pretty much anyone might read it.

Bottom line, however, that if my mother did come in and read (hej Mamma, välkommen!), or my father (tjena Pappa!), or even some old boss (hi Andrew, putting me in charge of the Christmas party and the carnage it turned into makes a lot more sense now, huh?) – this is me and whilst I’ve not gone and got myself a personalised number plate for my car that reads DRUNK4RD, I’m happy to look anyone in the eye any day of the week and say YEP, this is my story. But I would absolutely, unequivocally demand what I’ve been met with in this space without having to ask for it: respect and courtesy. I’m happy to share but I won’t be abused.

I’m sure I’ve made it clear how important this space is to me for the multitude of reasons that it is. And given this is beginning to sound like I’ve been abused, I haven’t been. But a friend has. And it made me think about how I’d feel if someone who dislikes me or wishes me harm found my blog and decided to use it against me. *looking nervously over my shoulder* Saying openly I’m an alcoholic would be excellent ammunition to fire at me in, say, a custody battle. Or forward to prospective employers if it weren’t for the fact that I’m pursuing a career in the recovery services where being in recovery yourself is actually a merit in many ways. Anyway, I’m sure there could be situations that would at the very least embarrass me. Or even sadden me, for example if put to my elderly grandmothers who are of a different generation and might not find this all that easy to swallow because they may hold more old fashioned views on having a drinking problem and the people who do (which would not be their lovely granddaughter, right?). Or imply I’m crazy or unstable for sharing or something else that’d make something healthy and sincere seem dirty and bad. You know, nasty stuff.

Or, say someone went on here and proceeded to bombard Hubby or other people I love with screen shots or quotes from what I’ve written, often ripped right out of context but with the aim to really destroy me. Look at the dirty drunk! Destroy me by taking the heartfelt things I share and using them to reduce me to something I’m not. I shower for starters. You know what I mean though, I’m sure. The friend in question isn’t an alcoholic, by the way, but like me her blog is a place where she shares – in the same manner as so many of us do here – things she has overcome and offers advice and insights around what she’s learnt. And it’s HER space. It’s a space where lots of people go, me included, because it means something to us too. And I find myself absolutely shocked to the core and so thoroughly disgusted and offended that it just took one bad egg to ruin that. Take something so lovely and turn twist it into something ugly. I am genuinely upset. Even though it’s not me it’s happening to I can really imagine how I’d feel if it were me. It actually breaks my heart a little.

Actually, I did have something I once wrote twisted and fired back at me. I wrote a handful of articles for a little network for women (and I mean LITTLE – it was a small community website with perhaps a readership of a few thousand, not exactly Huffington Post!) and Someone found those. Someone went on to comment using a fake name and when I found out I got really angry – there I was, never having mentioned names or even said anything that made anyone other than ME look bad in anyway, least of all Someone, and I felt really violated at thinking I’d responded to a reader honestly and in good faith but being fooled because they weren’t who they said they were. I thought it was a bit shit. Oh, and I found it frightening too, really creepy to correspond in comments with what you think is a stranger but in fact it was Someone. Brr! So I wrote an article about being trolled. That got twisted to mean I’d called Someone a troll by way of attacking how Someone looks. I didn’t appreciate that one bit and I did firmly stand my ground when confronted about it. I made damned clear what it was and what it wasn’t. I shut it down. Not the articles, but the nonsense. This situation is a little different. You can’t reason with madness, unfortunately.

Even so. What if it didn’t get used against me or as a weapon to shoot me down? Having someone who has hostile feelings towards me reading this would change things, it really would. I’d probably have to really censor myself. If my mother did read, I’d probably want to soften how bad my drinking got – I wouldn’t want her to have to read stuff like that because it might hurt her. And let’s say if Hubby’s boss read it! I’d be mega aware that it might reflect badly on him! What if it COULD be twisted somehow, that Hubby could be made to look bad because he married an alcoholic? OK, that’s so stupid I don’t even want to entertain the thought, but still.

As much as I feel really quite militant about being open and refusing to hide my recovery and my journey, it WOULD make it more awkward. Luckily, I don’t know that there’s anyone who wishes me harm. I’m sure there are people who don’t like me who might just read this with great glee, my ex-friend Friction being of that ilk – perhaps she’d laugh with delight at how I “ended up” an alcoholic. No, I don’t think she would either because I don’t think she’s evil. Unless there is something really wrong with you, I just don’t see how anyone would. I wouldn’t. Then again. Here we are and when I hear a friend tell me how someone’s doing this I find myself getting genuinely frightened. Not necessarily of the same happening to me but of what hatred does to people and makes them capable of.

Do you know what? Hey, I’ll address this bit to the one person I am fairly certain dislikes me, Friction. Yes, I’m an alcoholic. (Did you not suspect, by the way? You’re bright – I’d be intrigued to know how it looked to you!) I’m not ashamed. Yes, I have regrets and I’m not proud of how I used to drink and live. But I’m sober now and I’m proud of how far I’ve come and who I am. Whatever you think of me is nothing to do with that though, which I gather you realise anyway. Perhaps you find it funny or it serves me right or whatever because sometimes it’s nice to think Karma’s a bitch or have a giggle when someone we don’t like falls over. That’s cool and you’ve got every right to have an opinion. But this is my space. You are welcome here just like everyone else and like everyone else you are welcome to comment too. I don’t massively like you either but I do believe you’re a good person at heart and we just rub each other up the wrong way.

Pappa, if you have against all odds found your way here… Well, you know all this anyway. I’d probably feel better if you didn’t do a deep dive into everything I’ve written simply because I know you love me and I don’t want you to feel sad.

This is me.

Wow, funny old post but I ended up realising how we make ourselves so vulnerable and perhaps we end up with a false sense of security given 99.999999999% of the people who inhabit this space are so kind and respectful towards one another. My view of the blogosphere hasn’t changed and my willingness to share and be open and honest remain what it always was: unshakable. If anything, this made me even more determined not to hide. This community is too special and too important. For my friend it’s a lot more complicated than that and I wish I could make it all go away, but there we are. I can only hope that what’ll prevail is goodness, kindness and love – the very cornerstones of this little world we have here.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Not High Enough

Sometimes I get a little sick of myself and feel like telling me to just shut up already. Like with sobriety. OK, OK, Anna is sober, hip-hip-hooray. Next! Do you know what I mean? It’s like I sometimes feel I just need to chill out a bit and not make everything about sobriety, but perhaps I’m still in the honeymoon phase where I’m still discovering the magic of being sober.

What I ended up thinking about this morning was how my mind works. Obviously – yes, OBVIOUSLY – I’m a much better version of me when I’m sober as opposed to drunk, that goes without saying, but I do notice how some things seem to be very deeply ingrained in me. It was Feeling (find the blog HERE) who once in comments pointed out that what addicts often have in common is an inability to be content with WHAT IS. So I interpret this to mean that no matter how we feel, we find it hard to just remain in that spot. If it’s pain we feel, we try to get away from it and if it’s joy we try to chase another level of it – because right where we stand is either shitty or not enough. At first I felt that didn’t quite apply to me, I didn’t immediately see any truth in it for me personally as I almost always saw alcohol as something that enhanced life rather than took me away from it. Seems a bit silly now, really! I could see the connection if you’re someone who drinks like the saying goes: to drown our sorrows.

But it’s true! And it was one of those lightbulb moments for me when I actually understood what it meant and what Feeling was putting across to me. The question I had to ask myself was why I’d need to move on from a happy place? Any time I’ve felt triggered has been when I’ve been in a fantastic mood – happy, excited or similar. I’ve never felt compelled to drink when I’ve felt down. In fact the most miserable time of my life was the time period I hardly drank at all. Still, it’s the same principle – drinking to enhance is still drinking to move away or on from WHAT IS. Why not just be content right there?

Observing my own thoughts is interesting because I can really see this in myself now. When I think about life, I very rarely just think about the here and now. I think about what’s ahead and I think I’ve done that my whole life. It seems my whole existence has been geared towards tomorrow, not today. Today has only ever been something that happens before the Real Thing. I caught myself in those thoughts as I was having my coffee this morning – I got up early with Hubby who was catching a flight to Italy and therefore had some extra moments of peace and quiet to myself. I was thinking about life, but I was thinking not of right now but about six months down the line so I had to kind of rein myself in a little and tried instead to focus on this very spot I find myself in THIS moment. Jobless. In a bit of limbo. Things still a bit unclear and there’s a whole lot of the unknown. The bit where I work my notice before I can move on. OK, so it sounds a bit dull when you put it that way – and actually, it IS dull – but this is really a time to really FEEL! Here and now, as scary and daunting as I find it, is actually a really exciting point in my life.

It’s exciting because it’s a new chapter and yes, I can’t wait to see how life will unfold, but this little bit right here is actually a right little gem! Like being on the plane, boarded and ready to go, full of excitement! I like it here and actually when I think about it, it’s almost the most exciting bit about a holiday – when you’re about to go, whether it’s the night before after packing your bags and having ordered the taxi to the airport or when you’re sitting on the plane before take-off.

So I do try to focus on just being in the moment and appreciate things for what they are. If I ever get that urge to chase a high, I try to slow myself down and honestly look at what it is that makes me want to go higher. Why is high not high enough?

Oh God, this is just a load of random waffle, but hey – this is my blog, I set out to always be brutally honest and this went through my head today.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Ghosts In Broad Daylight

Hubby and I are very similar in many ways. OK, so he is actually the best person on the planet and I’m very far from that, but there are definitely ways in which we are almost too alike. I’m bossy and so is he. We both always and without fail believe that we know the best way to do something and as a result close ourselves off to alternative points of view. As a result, when we bicker about something, we both whinge about how the other person hasn’t listened to us. Or my personal favourite that I like to throw at him simply because I feel it’s good ammunition and allows me to wrap myself in the victim blanket: “you don’t HEAR me“. God, I really am pathetic. Luckily, we usually switch back pretty quickly to both admitting we were being dicks and then declaring our undying love for each other. Anyway, it’d appear that I can never ever again use that ridiculous victim line of not being heard, because it seems Hubby does and when we walked through the park yesterday he blew me away a little.

As we strolled along the path through the wilted ferns, we talked about a friend of mine who I’m really worried about. It’s Poppy and I have mentioned her before. It’d seem she’s being hit with those really bad consequences I personally escaped by the skin of my teeth. How I didn’t lose more is nothing other than insane luck. Anyway, she’s lost her driver’s licence after getting arrested in the morning for being over the limit. You know, I have no idea if I’m seeing things that aren’t there and perhaps she was just unlucky and it was a genuine matter of having had drinks the night before and being slightly over. That, unfortunately, isn’t TOTALLY uncommon and it CAN happen quite easily to almost anyone – we think we’re OK to drive but actually we’re not. Point is though, I don’t know for sure but on top of conversations with her daughter-in-law some time ago (who was desperately worried and told me about some pretty extreme levels of drinking – in fact, much worse than I ever got to) and some other things that have gone down, I just have that awful knot in my stomach. So we talked about what in God’s name I can do. I simply don’t know. Hubby listened when I told him how I worry that even this won’t be enough for Poppy to see that maybe it’s the drinking that’s the root of so many of her problems. Well, if it IS – after all, I can’t know for sure.

I’d be more worried that [her son and daughter-in-law] have moved so far away and she’s now on her own and can drink without anyone seeing it,” Hubby said.

What a guy. What a guy, who listens and who hears me. I’ve often said it that the worst place for an alkie is alone and unchecked (because that’s when we can drink the way we like to), and that’s what he pointed out. Well, I thought that speaks volumes for how keen he is to understand stuff and how much thought he has actually given to everything I’ve talked about. Plus it was a really good point that I didn’t quite think of.

How frustrating though – I feel like I’m just standing by and watching as Poppy goes down. I have already been through this with Tumbler and therefore familiar with waking up one morning to a string of R.I.P’s in the Facebook newsfeed. Actually, with Tumbler the news was broken to me via Messenger by a mutual friend before it became common knowledge and the wider circle began to post their sadness at her passing. “Did you hear that [Tumbler] passed away?” the message from our mutual friend Garbo read – what I felt at the time can only be described as an unsurprising shock. And maybe this is why – my own journey and Tumbler’s death – I perhaps project on to Poppy. I mean, I hope it’s true what Poppy herself says, that her drinking is under control and in moderation. I do want to believe that and desperately so. And yet I do go around with a knot of fear in my chest at the idea that it could happen at any time. I’ll get a message like that again or log on to Facebook expecting funny cat memes and instead being faced with devastating news.

To be honest, I feel like a traitor even writing this. Obviously I never use anyone’s real name or any other identifying details, but even so. Who am I to pass judgment? No one, that’s who. I should just accept Poppy’s view and let her live her life the way she decides to. And again – I have no idea and certainly not that much reason to believe her drinking is beyond “a little too much”. Hell, that’s what I had people believing about me for the longest time!! Even Hubby – and he LIVES with me and is therefore a primary witness – only ever used to say I just needed to cut down a little. It’s amazing how much you can hide even within the walls of your own home. Maybe it’s because I was hiding such an enormous issue that I, as we say in Sweden, see ghosts in broad daylight. I.e. things that actually aren’t there.

I’m going to be you,” I told Hubby and squeezed his hand as we emerged from the park and were walking towards the bridge to cross the river, “I’m going to be just like you with Poppy because it’s the best way I can think of, it’s the only thing I know that might work.

I glanced at Hubby who didn’t say anything in response. I squeezed his hand again, then lifted it to my lips and kissed his knuckles.

That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give you. You do realise there is nothing you could have done better, right? Any of that what-could-I-have-done-sooner is bollocks. You were honest and kind and I turned to you because I knew you would never judge me.

I know,” Hubby said and did his cute half smile.

I just don’t know any other way and that’s partly because Poppy says she’s fine (well – in terms of the drinking, that is) and who am I to say she isn’t? Just because I have a knot in my stomach that might have formed because of a million other things? Fuck me, this isn’t an easy one, is it? Check out the alkie who is now some sort of sobriety warrior and declaring who has or hasn’t a problem. It’s precisely what I shouldn’t be doing. So I’m going to be just like Hubby. I’m going to gently say to Poppy, when there is a good moment, that I worry that her drinking may be causing her problems at the same time as I underline I’m always in a corner and will do all I can to help if she ever needs me. Poppy did say to me many months ago that “no, seriously Anna, I need to stop drinking” but then that got lost again and whenever it came up she was back to claiming she’s all fine and all is well.

What gives me the heebie-jeebies is that this is the approach I took with Tumbler. At one point, I believe it was after her second DUI (how’s that for an echo?), a group of us got together and tried to help and support her. People told Tumbler they’d be there for her but she’d have to be sober when she called. I told her I was there for her and would always take her call no matter what state she was in. Tumbler, like alcoholics do, distanced herself and started lying about her drinking to most people but kept calling me. Nine times out of ten she was drunk. In fact, around the time she posted on Facebook that she was one year sober, I spoke to her – it was 9am in the morning where she was and she told me she was drinking wine. Sometimes I’ve regretted not taking that tougher stance because being softer just enabled her to still have someone to talk to even if she drank, given she didn’t have to hide it from me. At the same time I know that if I’d done that she would have distanced herself from me too and perhaps our conversations did make her feel a little better. I’ll never know. No one will ever know. What I do know is that neither approach worked because the one person who had the power to make Tumbler stop was Tumbler herself and she didn’t want to. Or rather, as she put it to me once: “I don’t think I will ever be able to.

This very dilemma was perhaps one of the biggest questions asked in the film we went to see Saturday morning: Beautiful Boy. It’s the story of a guy who gets hooked on methamphetamines along with alcohol, heroin and whatever else. It shows his father’s desperate attempts to understand, to help, to do the right thing. It poses the question of what we can do to help someone we love, but it doesn’t answer it beyond showing the absolute hell everyone goes through. In a scene from an Al-anon meeting (support groups for the people close to the addict) a woman talks about her niece who has just died from an overdose. She points out how she was already grieving her when she was still alive, but how it now makes more sense to do so. It’s heartbreaking.

So I can only emulate the best person I know, my husband, by trying to give to Poppy what he gave to me:

  1. Openly state I’m worried for her.
  2. Always be kind, always be there and never judge.
  3. Offer her hope by showing her it gets so much better.

And let’s face it, if Poppy’s problems with alcohol are all in my head, all I’ve done is being a good friend when she’s gone through some shit and waxed a little lyrical about the joys of sobriety.

Any views welcome as always.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Knobbly Bits and Bunions

Friday! And exactly two weeks until my last day in the job I’m currently doing. Let’s rephrase: two weeks left of the last job I’ve done badly. There. Whilst I’m very good at beating myself up and usually hesitant to make excuses for my own shortcomings by pointing at how I was balls deep in alcoholism, I do also have to admit to myself that the fact that I was able to do anything at ALL over so many years actually says something about how tough I am. Yes, on the one hand you absolutely can say I screwed up royally and I have no one to blame but myself for my sad CV. On the other, you could also recognise that just allowing for the basic functions (like, you know, standing up, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, etc) took serious effort. When I think about how I would answer the question of “how bad was it really?” the first thing that springs to mind is my cute Baby G watch. It’s a fat little watch and I love it, this is what it looks like:

babyg

Cute, eh? I bought it at Singapore Changi Airport on our way back home from New Zealand some years back. I like chunky watches because I have strange wrists – there’s a little knobbly bone that we all have but mine really sticks out – and in my head big watches look better on me. This knobbly part is sort of in the way and a smaller watch just doesn’t want to sit right on me, it’s exactly where you want your watch strap to be, really annoying. Metal straps (which I think are nicer than plastic or leather) just don’t work, because the watch either slips down below the knobbly bit uncomfortably close to my hand or has to be on tight too far up on my arm to avoid the pesky little hump. Here’s a picture of my weird wrists for additional amusement – well, just the right one but at least I’m somewhat symmetrical so I’m just as weird on both sides of my body. Having said that, the bunion on my right foot is considerably bigger than on the left one… I may have to do a little survey later, strip off in front of the mirror to ascertain which side of me is weirder. No, not to share here – don’t worry, just for my own enjoyment. Due to the bunion issue I fear the right side is already in trouble. Oohhh but I do have a nasty scar across my left knee from when I was knocked off my bike at the age of 10. Might be a close call, after all. Anyway, enjoy my weird knobbly wrist:

wrist

So anyway. I love that watch but I only used to wear it half of the year. Why? Because pushing three buttons in the right sequence to change the hour back and forth was simply too complicated for my foggy mind to cope with. No joke. That’s how fucked I was the majority of the time. Making a simple phone call was devastatingly difficult when I was muddled up, really took all I had to string together the words and try to absorb any information I was given. To spell it out – my drinking wrecked me to a level where adjusting the time on my watch was too difficult. At the beginning of this year I treated myself to an Apple watch, which ironically would have been a better choice when I was drinking like a sailor on leave, given everything is automatic and I don’t have to do a damn thing, but that’s besides the point really. But yes, I got the bigger screen version because of my wonky wrists.

I seem to be preoccupied with all these thoughts around what my drinking was really like from the amount of wine I used to drink to how badly messed up it left me. The good thing is that there are no positives to be found in there. I was thinking about this on my drive into work this morning actually – I do believe a lot of my view on alcohol was due to the brainwashing we all experience, but that alone obviously isn’t the reason why I’m an alcoholic. There must have been SOME good stuff. And sure, that feeling after the second drink – warm, buzzy and melty – I won’t deny was quite nice. It’s just that it never lasted long because I went full throttle into black-out, so it’s one tiny little nice bit in a freaking ocean of shit. It wasn’t even the hangovers that were the worst part, I think the really shitty and most awful bit was how stressful it all was – I was completely ruled by alcohol and I’ll tell you one thing: it ain’t a nice boss.

Well, let’s get back to that some time, shall we? The nice things about drinking. For me, the list is surprisingly short for someone who used to drink the stuff like a goddamn demon, but I want to keep this honest. I know of course that 99% of the stuff I thought alcohol was and did was all an illusion and I can honestly say nothing has changed in my view that I’d rather eat dog shit than drink again. I know it sounds insane – like would I REALLY if I was forced to make a choice – but I swear the dog poo is more appealing. It doesn’t increase my risk of getting breast cancer (and a bunch of other mean Cs) by 15% for starters so even at the outset it’s more appealing. Alcohol does nothing for me. Me – Anna. Perhaps you’re someone who does enjoy alcohol and never struggled with it in any way – good for you! Hubby is one of those people and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, if anything I find it fascinating – not in a patronising kinda way but just baffled by how he can have a couple of drinks and then be all thanks-that’s-enough and not be all stressed out. Wow. But yes, the nice things about drink is something to think over, I guess even if for me I’ll struggle to list even one beyond that brief feeling after two drinks.

Anyway!

The weekend is nearly here and it’s snowing in London today. Mostly rain and sleet but there was a lovely dusting of snow this morning but nothing too dramatic (the UK grinds to a halt any time someone spots a single snowflake). This afternoon Bambino has another trip to the dentist to have another couple of teeth pulled but these two are smaller than yesterday’s devil tooth so hopefully it’ll all be fine. And the weekend is wide open, which is nice and I think Hubby needs a breather after travelling all over throughout January.

Have a lovely weekend wherever you are.

Today I’m not going to drink.

Sober Mama, Brave Bambino

This is Bambino. It’s nearly 12 years ago – Midsummer’s Eve 2007 to be exact – and we were on our way to the Swedish Church for celebrations with my friend E. I never put photos on this blog of anyone else, Bambino included, because I don’t think it’s right unless that person has expressly said it’s OK. In this case I feel it’s OK. Bambino doesn’t look like this anymore, except for his huge blue eyes. Now he’s a lanky 14-yearold with dark fluff on his top lip. I’d like to think I look exactly the same, but alas….

midsummer2007004

Unfortunately for Bambino, it would seem he’s inherited his teeth from me. Sort of like he was God’s last appointment that day, when God was tired and just wanted to get home and therefore just threw a handful of teeth in there. So he’s getting braces and because his gob is quite crowded, some teeth have to come out. He had two out this morning and back again tomorrow for another two. Let me just say I still feel sick. We both needed a lie-down after that ordeal. Can I just warn you right now that further down there’s a horrible picture of a horror tooth. It’s the devil of all teeth, I swear. The picture does NOT do it justice, it’s a mean son of a gun this one.

Now, Bambino is – in spite of his neurotic mother – a really resilient and robust little dude. He’s never been one to kick up a fuss. I sat with him at the hospital the time he’d banged his head at school and had a big gash on his forehead that the doctor had to stitch up – bit weepy and clearly upset but not a peep. He just got on with it whilst I couldn’t even look, bravely just dealing with it, his big eyes looking up at the doctor for reassurance occasionally. Then there was the time he was violently sick, he was five or six at the time, and retching so much he lost his breath, plus he had a raging temperature too. In between violent heaving that made his tiny little torso contract, he whispered “OK, it’s OK” like an instruction to himself. Bambino is an absolute trooper, so much braver than I’ve ever been, calm and with the endurance of a super hero. God, I admire my little man so much, he’s something else that boy.

He’s had a tooth pulled before and it wasn’t fun, but it was what it normally is – unpleasant but doesn’t take very long and once you’re nice and numb it’s rarely a matter of more than five or ten minutes to get it out, right? And who likes needles? But he’s done it before and whilst he wasn’t looking forward to it, he was as chilled out as always and there was zero complaining or worry on his part.

This was something else though. The first tooth to go was a molar and they had to get that one as it had a filling and better to take a “bad” tooth than a healthy one. The dentist said it’d be trickier to get out as it had roots that were bending outwards so Bambino was clear on that it’d go on for perhaps a little longer. He seemed more concerned about the needle beforehand, but just asked how long that part would take and was happy with the response of just a minute. THE DAMN THING TOOK 45 MINUTES TO COME OUT. As Bambino is underage, I had to be present and I’ve never fought so hard to keep a calm demeanour. Smiled encouragingly at Bambino any time there was a break and he sought my eyes but I felt like throwing up the whole time. When the dentist was at it, I had my eyes closed and tried to think about something else.

This tooth is very attached to you,” the dentist said as she once again had the nurse cleaning up a little saliva and blood.

Bambino got several more rounds of the needle to ease the discomfort. It was brutal and I was breaking inside. The dentist’s neck was blotchy and she was visibly stressed-out too. I expected her to go and ask for help at any minute. She had told us beforehand that there was a risk of the roots breaking off, in which case Bambino would have to go to a dental surgeon, but after much pushing and pulling and pained groans and whimpers from Bambino, the devil tooth finally came out. Now, my kid isn’t one for crying. When Bambino cries, you know it’s bad. He was white as a sheet and shaking, a few tears rolling down his lovely face as he shakily removed the goggles to wipe them away as the nurse was dabbing at his mouth. It was vicious, I feel like crying just writing this. And after that ordeal there was still one more to go, but this one of the more normal kind and although there were a couple more injections, ten minutes and it was over.

I was last out of the room and the dentist put a hand to her chest and mouthed “oh my God” to me.

Out in the car Bambino hunched over and cried. When my robust little trooper cries, it means there’s MORE than reason to and anyone else would have lost it completely. And he has to go back again tomorrow for another two. So, so brave, this little dude, and I’m so proud of him. And why talk about this on this sobriety blog? Well, because I was a good mum today. I was present and calm and I looked after my kid. I was at my full faculties. I was a good mum today because I’m sober. If I’d been hungover I would have fainted or had a complete breakdown. I wouldn’t have been able to be there for Bambino in the same way when I was still drinking. Sober, it would appear I’m a lot more like Bambino, actually: pretty brave and pretty calm and pretty strong.

Here’s the devil tooth – just look at that evil, evil thing:

img_2318

Today I’m not going to drink.