Friday, 16 October 2015

The Escape Hatch

I can't thank you all enough for all your messages and e-mails yesterday. They made me cry. A lot. (In a good way). It felt like a global bear hug from a group of amazing, strong, warm, and kind people, and I am completely overwhelmed.

I am so sorry that I have not yet replied to any of them. Please forgive me.

For decades I have used booze as an escape hatch, a 'beam me up, Scotty' whenever I needed a fast exit from a hostile planet.

And yesterday I really needed an escape hatch, or a teleport.

A few months, maybe only a few weeks, ago, I would never have imagined I could get over a major hurdle without alcohol. I would have accepted that, in this instance, needs must. I would have decided to put the 'not drinking thing' on hold, and come back to it later when I'm feeling stronger.

But not yesterday. You see, the last (nearly) eight months have made me realise that there really is one thing harder than dealing with a major trauma without alcohol, and that's trying to do it with alcohol.

My last big health scare was about twelve years ago. I still remember it vividly. I drank my way through it. I managed to not think about it during waking hours (thanks to the escape hatch), but I'd wake up at 3am with the night horrors, then spend four hours tormenting myself.

Because of the constant escaping, I put everything off for as long as possible, thereby spinning the whole process out and making it far more painful than it needed to be (see my post on Procrastination).

If I had downed two bottles of wine yesterday (which I could have done very easily), then on top of all the general angst I would have had a truly awful night, followed by a day of doing nothing but hating myself and hating my situation.

Instead I managed to get five hours sleep. When I was awake I was anxious, but logical. As soon as the 'phone lines opened I called my GP and booked the first appointment on Monday morning. Then I called a knowledgeable friend and got the number of the best boob guy at the Royal Marsden, in case I need it. And I managed to do a good show of 'normal Mum' for the kids.

The reality is that the booze escape hatch is a bit like the one in a James Bond Movie. You think you've found an easy way out of the villain's lair, but you find yourself falling into an underground pool filled with hungry sharks.

I also discovered that it's true what they say about quitting booze giving you the strength and the tools to do anything. Because now I am one hell of a lot better at dealing with fear (see post on Anxiety and Courage). And banishing that voice in your head which constantly says you are going to die! is pretty much exactly the same as banishing the wine witch. The same distraction, visualisation and self care techniques work a treat.

I did do some macabre thinking. I had a long car journey today during which I planned my memorial service. It was just like my old game of deciding what I'd choose as my Desert Island Disks, but more morbid. (In case you're interested, I'm definitely having The Owl and the Pussycat as a reading, and will insist on them playing my song for Mr SM - Flowers in the Window by Travis).

(I also have to confess to drinking 6 Becks Blues and not eating anything. On the upside, I lost 2 pounds in 24 hours - yay!).

So, I'm fine. The odds, as many of you pointed out, are in my favour. But, if I end up with the short straw, I know that I am strong. I have you amazing people. I have one of the best cancer hospitals in the world just down the road. I can manage without hair if necessary. I can heal myself and help my Aunt too.

It's just a case of baby steps. One day at a time. Sound familiar?

If you're just starting out on this journey, then remember: you're not just changing your life by getting sober; you're also giving yourself the tools to deal with anything. And you never know when you might need them....

You rock. You are my rock.

SM x


  1. Aww that is good to hear. Glad you are feeling brighter. x

  2. So pleased that you managed to get through yesterday which sounded like the Bitch of All Days. Please remember you have given us all SO SO much - with your honesty and openness. Your emails are keeping so many of us on track. In return the community you have created will simply support you with our love and prayers to help you through any dark days. Hope your auntie is ok. X

  3. Keep your chin up SM, you are fabulous! Hope you have a good night's rest tonight, thank you for all your inspiration over the last 8 months. You have changed my life and my family's for the future in such a positive way, big hugs xx

  4. You rock! Good for you in getting through yesterday and realizing your strength!

  5. OMG! You are so strong. You are the rock here!!
    No planning memorial services girl! You still gotta lot of life to live..and a whole lot of people to help....

  6. As someone once said 'there's no problem that alcohol can't make worse'. I'm full of admiration for your coping strategies and in this too you're an inspiration. Hang on in there over the weekend and use your distraction techniques until your appointment on Monday. Hugs X

  7. SM - you and your wonderfully honest blog have been an amazing rock for me. Hate to think of you going through the mill over this, but it sounds like you're approaching it/problem solving in the best possible way. And don't forget - you ARE Khaleesi!!! xx

  8. Hugs from me, SM. Memorial planning - I put that down to being Very British. ( I have toyed with "Wake me Up before you Go Go - Wham). Any hoo, sounds like you have it covered. xxx

    1. Weird! I thought of that Wham song too!

    2. How about Gloria Gaynor's 'I will survive'? That should raise a few laughs ;-) xx

  9. And when I say "covered" , I mean your positive attitude. Not the memorial service. Obviously.

  10. I'm so sorry to hear that you are going through this stressful time, I found a lump last year and it took weeks of worry and stress and yes, planning my funeral before a very nervous biopsy amounted in a cyst. I know its easy to say not to worry, you won't be able to not too but try to cross bridges when you reach them. Hoping all the best for you

  11. Just read the last entries. So sorry you're going through a such a crap time. Big hugs, thinking of you. Xxx

  12. I must confess to stalking your blog until your last post. So relieved to hear you're in a better state of mind. You are amazing :-)