Guerrilla Tactics

It’s a beautiful Monday morning and London seems to be going in to that seam between summer and autumn with a freshness to the air that feels so good after the humidity of the past months. Still humid and a little muggy and I sweated a freaking ocean on my run yesterday. When I say ‘run’ I refer to the total of 12 minutes I actually jogged. Have a 10k app that is supposed to get me up to speed again. Or not speed perhaps, just get me to a state where I can chug along 10k without having to stop jogging and walk. All in good time. But yes, a gloriously beautiful morning here.

You could say that where I am right now is like the scene from Jaws, think it’s the first one with that woman swimming along and you hear the ominous music that signals the approach of Sharkie-doo with the camera shot zooming in on her from deep in the water below:

  1. Beautiful day.
  2. I feel rested, content and happy.
  3. Add feeling of additional physical wellness due to PT sessions and getting back into running.
  4. I have tomorrow off – albeit standard August procedure, not my Drunkard’s Planning.
  5. Hubby is at Heathrow about to board a flight to the States.

jaws

Oh yeah, I’m that chick in the water and Sharkie-doodle-doo is lurking in the depths below. Do I trust in strength I want to believe I have? Or do I ask for help? I didn’t fucking plan to develop alcoholism! If it had been part of the plan I wouldn’t have moved abroad, because right about now it would be really good to speak the following words:

  1. Hey Mum, I’m OK so don’t worry, but today is a tight spot for me so I’m staying with you for a few days until hubby’s back. 
  2. Dad! How’s it going? Let’s go moose spotting and don’t drop me home until after 11pm because I’ll never want to start drinking that late. 
  3. Hi there brother D, I’m sorry to do this to you but I’m not home dry yet so I’m going to camp out in your spare room. Thanks. 
  4. Cherokee, I feel a tad wobbly so would you mind babysitting me? Yep, I know, ridiculous but all I need is just your presence and we’ll have a nice time I promise.

Well. Those luxuries are far away and so I’ll just have to make do with the anchors I do have and I feel cautiously confident it’ll be fine. There are people I can reach out to here too should I need it, but it never hurts to have a plan and I do. Groceries arrive between 3 and 4pm (can’t be drunk). Window man is over at 5pm to measure everything up (can’t be bloody pissed for that, now can I?). Going for a 10k walk (not possible even with the THOUGHT of booze in my head because the only place I’ll walk then is the fucking store).

The heaviest anchor is Bambino, who is arriving back today after staying at his dad’s last night. I’ve been as open as I can with him and have explained everything except the A-word and just a couple of days ago I received a hug from him with the words “you’re doing well, Mum, I’m proud of you“. It was after I’d been for a gym session and walked back in, and I can promise you that he wasn’t referring to how many squats I’d done. My kid is over-joyed because I’ve quit drinking – if I then decide to take up knitting or train spotting he doesn’t give a honking hoot about. I don’t even think he’d care if I decided to join the circus so long as I’m sober. He might not spell it out but it was me quitting drinking that he meant and nothing else. In a way that makes me want to punch myself in the face. No 13-yearold should ever have to tell their goddamn parent they’re proud of them for not getting smashed on a daily basis anymore. But there we are, I can’t change any of that now, but what I can do is continue to show my boy that I want to be the best I can be and that I’m working hard at this. For all my failures and everything I’ve fucked up, this is my little chance to show him I can do and be better. Not even this rotten drunk would get drunk in front of Bambino now. Not behind his back either. Never again. For such a skinny little twig he is the heaviest anchor of them all.

I’ll be honest, there is no ping! in my head. I’ve felt like this every time hubby’s been away though. We talked about it last night, how I’ve felt a bit vulnerable each time he’s gone away with work but how it’s been fine in the end. Reality has never lived up to my worries beforehand. It rarely does, right? Perhaps it’s a good thing though, to worry like this? I’m going to see it that way I think, that it’s positive that I’m aware of the fact that this is really my weakest point – solitude and a good mood – and I’m just getting myself a little worked up but that the sense of vulnerability is actually serving me well. The Beast doesn’t fight fair, it’s all guerrilla and surprise tactics, but it’s always harder for it to get me when I’m anticipating an attack. The Beast would be much more likely to get me when I don’t expect it. See? I’ve got this.

I’ve been nervous before when hubby’s gone but when push has come to shove it’s actually been fine. That’s the thing with worrying. Like when I have to have a needle. It’s the size of Burj Khalifa in my head but then turns out it’s no big deal at all. Someone said that worrying is like a rocking chair: it’ll keep you occupied but won’t get you anywhere. Well, that makes worrying seem really pointless, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that when it comes to alcoholism it’s actually another tool. OK, hopefully I’ll always discover that hey, I was fine in the end and any worry I felt was totally needless, but better that than getting ambushed by a monster that doesn’t play fair.

There’s one thing I’m really determined to get right, and again hubby and I spoke about it last night. As much as it’s OK to need those around you, I can’t bloody make my sobriety hang on other people. Hubby is my bestie and I have this whole army of amazing friends and a kick-ass family, but THIS IS MY FIGHT. They can come watch and they can cheer me on and even wipe my brow and hand me a bottle of water, but I can’t remove my gloves or flee from the ring if they leave the arena. I have to keep fighting even when the whole crowd is cheering on my opponent. Go Sauvignon Blanc! Finish her! Even then I have to fight. So me being sober today has to come from me. I have to focus on that I don’t want to drink and not worry because I’m flying solo for a few short days. No, I can’t go and stay at Mum’s, nor can I have a babysitter. I just have to pull on my big girl pants and show who’s boss.

Most of all, I’m reminding myself why I don’t want to drink. I’m forcing myself to in my head list positive things that drinking would bring – there aren’t any, only lots of bad shit. Nothing else.

I’ve got this.

Today I’m not going to drink.

On the Other Side of the River

I’ve got this feeling, inside my bones…. Timberlake has put it very well and the song may as well be the soundtrack. Kind of in the background a little initially but it’s right there even from early in the day, and when I give the feeling a bit of attention it intensifies and makes me happy. Work is frustrating because I just want it out of the way. I know the exact route and the journey itself is almost half the excitement. Just thinking about the journey is exciting and fills me with impatience – come on, TODAY, pass! When I can finally leave work I am in a goddamn excellent mood and hop into my little car. I tootle down along the fields, the scenic route with protected views of the river – yes, it’s so beautiful it’s a protected area, this little patch of London – then a left across the bridge. By now I’m humming along, because I’ve REALLY got this feeling. Yes, inside my bones. Oh, it’s is all encompassing and all consuming. There is nothing else. I have no time or energy for anything else.

On the other side of the river now, approaching the traffic lights where I turn right into the High Street. I’ve got that sunshine in my pocket…. This feeling is not even worth trying to fight and by now I am no longer in charge of my limbs as I just dance, dance, dance… I grab a coconut water as I walk past the chilled section because I have it in my head that this contains potassium, which is good to have when you poison yourself. If it happens to be somewhere on my route where I immediately can see and grab it without stopping (let alone having to look for it) I grab a box of Dioralyte too for rehydration. Nowhere to hide when I’m getting you close and I round the corner to the left and grab a bottle of soda water from the shelves on the right without stopping – I’m on autopilot and I could find my way around this store blindfolded. My movements are fluid and I don’t skip a beat, I’d probably look quite good in some sort of musical just about now. And then another left and I almost skip around that corner. Chilled booze to my right but I don’t like having three glass bottles that clink together and betray my mission to the world, and I glance lovingly down to my left. “Sainsbury’s Own” – which means the supermarket chain’s own, shitty brand – Soave. A neat little box that holds three bottles without any of the annoying, treacherous fucking clinking! Cheap, dry, white plonk. Fairly pleasant and even more so when diluted with a bit of fizz from the soda when we move, well, you already know

My shame alarm centre registers a signal as I’m in the queue as well as when I hand my basked to the cashier but I push it back and disable it and it disappears anyway when the contents of my basket – a box of wine, a bottle of soda water and a small coconut water container – are placed in the bag. I don’t use the self check-out because when you buy booze you have to get the cashier over anyway to approve the purchase so this is quicker. Out! I’m nearly there!

The five minute drive up the High Street and home consists of me visualising the step process. I tap my fingers on the steering wheel impatiently as I have to stop by the traffic lights. Finally home it’s much like my Sound of Music dance through the supermarket aisles, I don’t even remove my shoes or put down my handbag because there is nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance. Wine box and soda out of the bag, break in to it and fill a regular drinking glass with two thirds wine and a bit of soda and then ice cubes to make it palatable – who wants warm wine? A couple of greedy gulps and I note I’ve swigged a third (was it really a COUPLE of gulps?) so top it up straight away. Phew! NOW I can remove my shoes and with less hurry I put the box and soda and the coconut water in the fridge. Shoes off, bag down, change into trackie bottoms and put my hair up, as if it’d get in the way but heck, I’m not chancing it.

Just us now. Sofa. My phone. Sometimes laptop. And my usual reminder to myself: DON’T PUT ANY SHIT ON FACEBOOK. I sometimes mean to write this on a sheet of paper to put up somewhere I can see and hopefully register it even once I’m in black-out. See, when I go into no man’s land and lose time, I’m no longer me and I don’t even know that person so God knows what they might do. My only way of reaching that chick is by putting up a note. Sometimes she goes and posts stuff on Facebook, other times she’s written toe curlingly embarrassing e-mails and other times I see from the call lists on my phone that she’s had phone conversations too. All a blank to me. Seeing the evidence of the call with name and duration is ALL that I’ll know of it. It could be half an hour of conversation that is a mystery to me. Oh, the amount of times I’ve pretended to remember a conversation, taking cues from whoever and nodding and trying to appear all “oh yes, of course“. But at this stage, I’m still here. The first glass isn’t – except of course those first gulps I take before I do anything else – all that fast. The familiar taste with bubbles fills me with peace. Mm….

My shame alarm centre does send off a signal right around here but I switch it off. Put it away quickly, away with it! Why in God’s name be so negative and pay attention to how sad it is that I’m sitting here with my wine? Alone. On the sofa. With my phone. No, no, no! Best get on with it! I take a good swig and feel the bubbles wash down my throat as I dive into the wine wave, I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops oohhh… Glasses two and three are considerably faster and now I feel really great! Joyful, excited, full of love and enthusiasm. This is where I might text a few people. I’m loving EVERYONE and EVERYTHING now. Or I might even make a few phone calls if I’m reasonably confident I won’t slur – sometimes I slur half way through the first drink (why though?) but usually I’m OK with speech until I’m heading for drink four. Yes, Drunk Me does make calls before black-out sometimes but that’s OK – or less NOT OK – because these texts and calls I can remember and I’m actually IN them. Embarrassing, sure, sometimes, but these are in the grand scheme of things fine. No sweat. I once again remind myself to perhaps put up that note for the stranger in black-out that I can’t otherwise reach but as usual I don’t bother. Or forget. I can’t be sure which.

Hubby is away and texts. I tell him I am having an early night because I don’t want to have that conversation at 10pm when 1) I’ll be fucking hammered out of my skull, and 2) quite likely be in black-out anyway. It’ll just worry him so better if he thinks I went to bed early. Why drag any innocent bystanders into the pool of shame or worse, worry or hurt the ones I love? No, no, no – THAT would be selfish, no?

Glasses four and five are so fast I’m not sure I can accurately account for them. May I remind you these aren’t standard 175ml wine measures? I’m drinking from a full size regular glass which at a guess holds 400ml out of which I’d estimate that at least 300ml is wine. I don’t really know what happens during glass four and five, except I put them away with lightning speed and it goes electric wavy when I turn it on and six and seven are when it’s definitely getting VERY blurry. This is, if I don’t hit black-out (in which case I obviously can’t AT ALL tell you a single fucking thing), when I sit there and have the Drunken Shakes. This isn’t a little tremor and is NOT to be confused with hangover shakes, this is something else altogether. These are jerky, unsteady movements that mainly affect my hands and arms. Arms most of all, they are that pronounced, too big to affect small extremities like fingers. If I sit there slumped like I often do at this point, with the glass in my hand resting against my leg, it takes all my might to not only lift it (and lift it I must) but hold it steady. I often knock it against my face when I get like this. Am I like this in black-out? Does it happen then too? Well, I don’t fucking know, do I? You tell me.

I wake up. Don’t know much. Look around me only moving my eyes. I got drunk, didn’t I? The overpowering feeling of shame and dread finds me immediately and I cringe as I grab my phone, my first point of call when I need to figure out what happened. Speak to anyone? Oh, look, I talked to both of my grandmothers. I push it away and disable the signals from my shame alarm centre – their hearing is bad anyway so if I slurred they probably didn’t notice, right? Anything on Facebook? No, thank God, but I did make comments – oh no, oh fuck no, SEVERAL COMMENTS – on a political post and unless you’re blind drunk yourself it’s very obvious I’ve drink’n’dialled here. Delete. No texts. Safari history… Watched a bit of porn, eh? Classy. I am unsteady and there is no way I can leave the house, good job I’m so organised and already booked the day off. I knew this, see? So now I have a day ahead of feeling anxious, full of dread and so ashamed I have to spend most of it disabling the deafening signals from my shame alarm centre. It’s a day I can’t do anything with. I need to shower at some stage but right now there is no way I can feel confident enough to tackle slippery tiles. I can barely stand as it is. So I don’t.

See how fun it is to be a drunk? It’s glorious, don’t you think?

But that’s not today. That was Drunk Me. This is Sober Me. I’m seeing my snazzy PT this afternoon and despite going for my first run in I don’t know how long yesterday my muscles are feeling good now. Strong even and I’m looking forward to sets of lunges, squats, spinning and whatever else. Date night with hubby, he is booking this time so I only know it’s on the other side of the river. And bambino has a sober mother.

Today I’m not going to drink.