Monday, 15 June 2015


Day 107.

Many thanks for all your hugely helpful comments yesterday about the battle raging in my head.

I've thought about it more, and - as always - have a theory...

When we first quit drinking, what keeps us on the 'straight and sober' is our memories of all the bad times. We write them down. We replay them in minute, agonising detail. The AA steps 4-10 absolutely encourage this: make an 'inventory' of all your wrongs and, wherever possible, make amends.

It's the reason why I sometimes (fleetingly!) envy the classic 'low bottom' drinker. With my warped logic I convince myself that the more terrible your behaviour before quitting, the more impetus you must have to change and to stay strong.

Surely if you are in danger of losing your children, your husband and your home, for example, you would never let yourself waver?

But, in reality, it doesn't work like that. Because the further down the escalator you go, the tighter a grip the addiction has. By then the wine witch isn't just sitting on your shoulder, she's wrapped herself around the very core of your being, her claws entwined in your rib cage.

I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and I never want to let myself get there.

So, in the early days, when the wine witch starts whispering we lob our toe curling, soul destroying memories at her like hand grenades.

But, as I wrote yesterday, over time we start scrabbling around more desperately for ammunition. Not only are those events more difficult to recall, but we don't want to spend our lives replaying them. We want to move on.

So then what?

A new store of ammo.

The great thing about the new ammunitions cache is that it doesn't get depleted over time - it gets bigger and better. Because the new ammo is all the fantastic sober experiences that we're building up, the sheer weight of sober days behind us, and the horror of starting again at number one.

It was Sober Mommy's (my American blogging twin - we are identical, but for one vowel) comment that made the penny drop. She wrote "omg! I felt the exact same way this weekend! The only thing that stopped me from listening to those damn voices was the number 169! I'm not losing my days of sobriety....not if I can help it."

And that made me think that now, when the wine witch starts whispering, I can pack my bazooka gun with rockets made of compliments people have given me, the pride my children and husband have in me, and the memories of all the things I've done that have been better without the booze.

I've had two events in the last few days that have given me huge great stashes of ammo.

The first was a big formal lunch celebrating the diamond wedding (that's sixty years!) of family members. I drove. No arguments with the husband about who was driving home causing simmering resentment before we'd even started.

We sat at a table for eight, and there were two bottles of wine on the table. In the past that would have bought me out in a cold sweat. How could two bottles possibly be expected to go around eight people? Would they bring more?

But not now! I even managed to accept a glass of champagne and raise a toast to sixty years without it going anywhere near my mouth. Yay!

And as I looked around all the happy guests (average age 70), I thought how embarrassing it would be to be even the slightest bit drunk. Slurring at the folks with the hearing aids and careering off the zimmer frames.

Then yesterday I took #1 to an induction day at the school she's starting at in September. Again there was a lunch - for all the new parents and key staff. I sat on a table of ten and right in front of me sat one solitary bottle of wine. Nobody touched it!

Now 107 days ago I would have spent the whole lunch unable to concentrate on #1's new and charming form tutor, or any of my co-parents. I would have been staring askance at the bottle wondering whether I could justify grabbing it and pouring just a little glass....

....which I would do, eventually, (well, if they hadn't wanted us to drink it, they wouldn't have put it there, would they?).

This would, of course, lead to an even more agonising internal dialogue about how much more I could drink (given that, as the only drinker, the amount of wine missing from the bottle would be obviously down to me) before eyebrows were raised and the drive home would become difficult, if not illegal and downright dangerous.

As it was, I happily sipped on my water (like everyone else), charmed the pants off the teachers, and made some new, nascent friends amongst the parents. Crucially, I did not let #1 down - quite the reverse. I was model new Mum.

So that's an extra two new, vivid memories to add to my stash of hand grenades.

Which got me thinking. The AA twelve steps (which I haven't done, so please forgive my na├»ve interpretation of them) seem to focus almost entirely on the past. Shouldn't there be more emphasis on celebrating our successes? On spreading the word? On proving to ourselves, and everyone else, that ours is not a choice that need not be made out of fear and desperation but out of hope and expectation?

As you can see, I'm feeling more positive, and am off to find more rockets for my launcher.

SM x


  1. Glad you are feeling more positive. I am shuddering at the thought of drinking that lone bottle at the lunch. A bit like when I was once drunk for a job interview, unbelievable really cant believe I did that!

    1. we would have justified it as 'dutch courage', wouldn't we!?

  2. Great post. So true, so much to gain, that should be the focus

  3. Wonderfully positive post. Looking forward is so much better than dwelling on the past.

  4. Fab post. Very refreshing. I completely agree. I had a date night with Mr LNM last Saturday. We went out for a meal. I appreciated the taste of the food and it felt abit like a first date as I didn't have wittering wine giving me verbal diarrhea and false confidence. I actually found myself smiling at the couple next to us (who were my parents age) as they slurred their way through their meal. So glad it wasn't me making a drunken show of myself. x

  5. The 12 steps don't focus on the past. They really focus on the present, self acceptance and self awareness.
    It is worth reading the women's way through the 12 steps. They are a powerful tool.
    I think everyone should go to an AA meeting at some point just to experience it. Millions of people use the steps. You might as well check out the group you belong to!

    I am definitely not an AA lover. But letting go of anger and resentment, forgiving myself, and letting go and letting God (the universe, the source, etc) has transformed me.

    I'm glad you didn't give in. The wine witch is just checking in. She is probably proud of you too.

    1. You're right, Anne. I need to go. I'm such a chicken.

    2. Hi SM
      Reading the big book will help if you don't want to go to meetings. I'm enjoying it a lot. It talks about living one day at a time....and finding your spiritual journey..... Great read. You can read it online for free!
      Love this post! I've been a little lost and it feels good to know that I have a sober blogging twin.... wink wink.....

    3. I'm reading it too SM! See, we are twins!

    4. I started going to AA meetings just a few weeks ago. I have 18 days of sobriety so I am a real newby. Last night at our womens meeting, we discussed the importance of keeping our memories "green". Meaning we need to remember the crappy stuff, as it will help us to not drink again. If we only think of the good drinking times, we are more likely to take a drink. Other than that, we do focus on the here and now. Each day I remain sober, I am more excited about my sober future. Thanks for blogging, I look forward to reading more of your story!

  6. Yay new sober memories! I have a big night out on Saturday with ex work colleagues. It's in the city centre so probably easiest to take bus but will take car to make sure I don't drink if tempted although I feel quite strong at the moment. These sorts of nights out always ended in total carnage so am looking forward to trying it out sober. And maybe even networking for my (hopefully soon) return to work. Thanks x

  7. Dear SM,
    I sure don't want to be that a drunk older lady!
    Well, I am 61.5, with one hearing aid, and a cochlear implant!!
    Glad I don't drink anymore!!

  8. A school induction with wine!!! I went my son's school today, didn't even get a glass of water ( it was only an hour stay and play). I used to be impressed however with the school fete which sold beer and wine. The first school fete I'd seen with booze. Needless to say I attended every year ... For the tombola of course not the wine. And did I go home afterwards like most people ... did I heck ... We'd go to the pub after go carry on drinking!!!