When you stop drinking you find that there are certain 'triggers' that always make you yearn for a delicious, chilled glass of white wine (or whatever your favourite tipple is).
Because I drank every evening, and lunchtimes more often than not, pretty much everything was a trigger to start off with.
Walking past the fridge. Any type of food preparation (except breakfast, thankfully! I hopped off the down escalator before that point). Any form of stress. Walking past the wine shop, or the booze aisle in the supermarket. Anyone dropping in. Being at home alone. Being out with friends. You get the picture.....
The biggest trigger was wine o'clock. Wine o'clock was, officially, 6pm, but it had gradually crept earlier and earlier, until it settled at around 5pm. (Given that 'lunch time' didn't generally end until around 1.30pm, this didn't give me a great deal of time off).
To start with I had to 'white knuckle' it between 5pm and 7pm. I begged the long suffering husband to come home from work as close to 6.30pm as possible, and I'd dash upstairs to take a hot bath with bubbles and deep breathing. By 7.30ish it would be relatively safe to emerge again.
I've now done four months of wine o'clocks, and they are officially not a problem any more. Woo hoo! 6pm is now alcohol free beer time. 9pm is hot chocolate time. Sorted.
The day-in-day-out triggers I've got more or less licked. My issue now is the triggers which pop up unexpectedly. Like the whack-a-mole game I mentioned yesterday. Yoo hoo! Over here! Bam!
People tell me that one of the worst things about bereavement is when you first wake up and forget, just for a moment, that your loved one is gone. Then it hits you afresh.
Quitting alcohol is very much like losing a lover. Your constant companion. Best friend. Your go to prop. And, like bereavement, my worst triggers are when - just for a moment - I forget that my lover is gone.
I received an e-mail a few days ago from #1's school. It was about the year 6 leaver's production of Oliver. It said 'children should be dropped at school at 5.45pm to change and warm up prior to the performance at 6.30pm. Drinks will be available in the marquee for parents.'
My heart soared. Yay! An official excuse to drink! At school! Before 6pm! On a hot day! What's not to like?
Then BAM. Reality. Oh yes. Not me. Never again. Boo hoo.
The other trigger that's currently driving me crazy is bloody Ed Sheeran.
#1, #2 and #3 insist on listening to Capital Radio in the car, which means that - for the first time in a decade - I am totally up to date with the charts. I am intimately acquainted with Taylor Swift and 1D.
If I am annoyed with the offspring, I park outside the school gates, wind the window down, sing loudly to whatever chart song is playing and add appropriate 1980s hand movements. This causes howls of anguish from the back seat as they desperately try to pretend that they've never met me before.
(They get their revenge by shouting loudly in shops "My Mummy's forty six!")
Anyhow, one of their favourite songs is Ed Sheeran's Bloodstream.
It gets me every time. "I got sinning on my mind. Sipping on red wine......I've been looking for a lover, Thought I'd find her in a bottle...."
Then, the line that makes me grip the steering wheel hard, "I feel the chemicals burn in my bloodstream."
There's something about that line.
I don't really miss the second or third glass of wine any more. I miss that first big glug. I miss the moment when you feel it hit your bloodstream, and the world shifts on its axis. The gear changes. Everything softens.
It's like the Star Trek teleport system. Spock hits the button and everyone goes all wavy then pops up somewhere else.
I feel a wave of loss as I realise that I'll never have that fast track to relaxation again.
So, Ed Sheeran, I say take your flipping chemicals and shove them where the sun don't shine, because you're messing with my head. And my school run.
Onwards and upwards peoples.
Love SM x
P.S. In case any of you have been fretting about the sad, premature demise of #3's tadpoles, you will be glad to hear that my sainted mother came up from the country yesterday with 5 new, healthy tadpole/frog combos for the tank, thereby saving her granddaughter from having to face the inevitability of death for a little bit longer.....