Saturday, 31 October 2015

Friendship

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw.
"I just wanted to be sure of you."
AA. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

When I first quit drinking, one of the things I was most scared of was losing my friends.

(See my post Will I Lose All My Friends? written back on Day 13)

I was aware that, in my overly enthusiastic drinking days, if any of my friends announced they were going sober I'd have been entirely unsympathetic and, most probably, would have distanced myself from them.

Non drinkers, in my book, were rather po-faced, holier than thou and more than a little dull. They didn't walk on the wild side, like me, grabbing life by the short and curlies. They were not part of my tribe.

Also, if I ever spent any time with a non-drinker, a little voice would start to whisper in my ear do you think maybe you're drinking too much? Do you think, perhaps, you should quit drinking? And that was a place I did not want to go.... I'd hastily stick my fingers in my ears and go la-la-la-la-la.

My cancer diagnosis two weeks ago has taught me an awful lot about friendship.

Oddly, when you get really, really bad news there are very few people you want to talk to. And they're often not the ones you'd expect.

I told two of my oldest girlfriends who were there whenever I needed to talk to someone. One of them even spent hours ringing round to find me a top breast consultant when the two I'd been recommended were away on holiday for a week (which is a very long time in cancer land).

The third person I told was a lady I don't know well at all. She's a Mum from the kid's school, and she lives nearby. I've never had a really good heart to heart with her. But when I got the news I just knew she'd be a good person to tell, so I turned up on her doorstep, sobbing.

This lady - H - has been a rock. She came to meet me in the park whenever I escaped from the children for a dog walk and a sob. She bought me a beautiful book to write down all the medical stuff I had to remember, and to pour out my feelings in. She has texted me several times a day, making me laugh and cry. She will be one of my best friends for ever.

It made me realise that for the last decade, at least, I have not been the friend that anyone has turned to first. I used to be - many years ago, but now I hear about close friends' illnesses, divorces, problems with their children, several weeks or months down the line. I am not a first port of call.

You know why? I'm sure it's because, as a drinker, I was a fair weather friend. Fun to have at parties, to share gossip and to have a laugh with, but not a friend in need.

The truth is that drinkers make rubbish friends. We tend not to listen (after a few drinks we get stuck on 'transmit' rather than 'receive'). We're not trustworthy (anybody's secret makes a good anecdote after a glass or two of vino). We're not reliable (I would often forget the crucial details of a friend's confidences, if not the whole conversation!).

Since I quit drinking I've been a much better friend. Instead of doing all my socialising at drinks parties, spending no more than ten minutes with any one friend, having superficial banter, I've spent hours chatting over coffees, dog walks and lunches.

When I am at a party, I don't try to talk to everyone - I have a few really good conversations with people I haven't seen for a long time. I listen. I remember. I'm thoughtful.

Yes, some of my big drinking friends I feel less close to, but I've realised that I was never that close to them anyway - not in the ways that matter.

And the vast majority of my friendships are way more precious and stronger now than they were a year ago. Plus I've picked up some wonderful new friends, who never knew the drunken me.

Friendships, you see, like flowers, have to be nurtured, cared for, watered. Pour sauvignon blanc over them for long enough and you poison them.

The other thing this experience has taught me about friendship is how much I value all of you.

As you know, confessing to a drink problem, or to going sober, is hard in the real world (see my post: Dear Friend), which is why the sobersphere is such a lifeline.

I may never have met you, or know what you look like, but I've bared my very soul to you and you've accepted me, and that is the most powerful form of friendship there is.

Plus, we all share something. Despite our very many differences we are all very alike.

Here's a wonderful quote from C.S.Lewis:

Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no-one but myself...."

And that is what bought us all here.

Thank you, dear friends.

SM x

P.S. I am back from hospital. Sore and tired, but happy.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Farewell, Faithful Friend

I'm feeling a little tearful tonight as I say farewell to a fair old chunk of my left boob.

The boobs have stuck by me, through thick and thin. They started life all perky and upbeat. The life and soul of the party, and massive attention seekers - rather like me.

Then they got a bit battered by life, and by looking after three children. A little older and droopier, but still able to have a good old flirt when helped by a hefty bit of under-wiring.

After tomorrow, they'll never look the same. Lefty will always be a vivid reminder of a battle fought and - I hope - won.

Thanks to knocking the vino on the head (nearly) eight months ago, I'm going into the operation fighting fit. My BMI is bang smack in the middle of the 'normal' range, and I can happily tick 'non smoker' and 'non drinker' on the pre-assessment forms.

But here's my guilty secret:

I'm really looking forward to the morphine.

A legitimate mind altering substance. Now that's got to be a bonus.

Love SM x

Visualisation

I'm a huge believer in the power of visualisation, and it can be a fabulous tool to help you get sober.

If you're in the early days of quitting, you'll find that instead of the voice in your head (the one that keeps persuading you to drink, even when you really, really don't want to) getting quieter, it gets louder and louder.

I find it really helps to visualise the voice. It's important to remember that it's not part of you. It's a separate thing that can be beaten and banished, leaving you free.

I call the voice the Wine Witch.

Imagine that there is a witch curled around your back, her arms around your throat, her talons clutching your collar bone.

She's really heavy, dragging you down and making you exhausted. And she's constantly whispering in your ear, causing you to behave in ways you don't like, making you hate yourself.

(Heroin addicts know this feeling too - it's why they talk about 'the monkey on their back').

Now, here's the truth: the only thing keeping the witch alive is alcohol.

Every day you refuse to give her what she wants, she gets weaker.

BUT BEWARE! The weaker she gets, the more cunning she gets about trying to get her fix.

DO NOT GIVE IN! Feeding the witch will keep her happy for a short while - she'll shut up, seem lighter and less intrusive. But you'll make her stronger, and she'll only come back with a vengeance the minute you start depriving her again.

Slowly, slowly, without alcohol, the witch gets weaker, quieter and lighter. Then one day you turn around and realise that she's no longer there! You are free, light and unburdened. There's no-one dripping poison in your ear. It's just you, as you're meant to be, as you used to be.

Another way visualisation can help is when you need some extra strength. The clock strikes wine o'clock, and you're literally grinding your teeth and sitting on your hands.

I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan, so at this point I would imagine I was Kalheesi, and would unleash my dragons and army of the unsullied at the Wine Witch, which would usually do the trick (see I am Kalheesi).

The third way to use visualisation is to picture yourself where you want to be.

Many people (including the fabulous Wayne Dyer - see my post Change the Way You Look at Things) believe in the Power of Attraction: that if you can really see the result you want, you can make it happen. This is also the essence of the global bestseller The Secret.

So, picture yourself sober, happy, healthy, free. If you can see it, you can be it.

I'm using visualisation right now. I'm imaging that all the toxins and the bad stuff that I've done in my life has been concentrated in the little malignant lump in my left boob, which after my operation tomorrow will be all gone.

So it's like a brand new start, all clean and cancer free. A new chapter in the novel of my life.

And, just in case it gets a bit rocky for a while, I have some great guys on standby to help me through. I'm imagining them facing off any stray cancer cells, and I'm offering them to you, too, to help you whenever you need them.

CLICK HERE!

Love to you all!

SM x

Related Posts: Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

THANK YOU!

If someone had told me 2 weeks ago that I'd feel grateful for having a cancerous breast tumour I'd have thought they were crazy, but here I am thinking...

HALLELUIA! IT'S JUST ONE MALIGNANT BREAST TUMOUR!

The scan showed nothing else. It's not gone anywhere. Just sitting happily, minding its own business in the bottom left quadrant of the lefty.

And as of Friday it'll be gone. Off to the lab in a jar. And I can get on with chemo (if they decide I need it) and radio, and blitz the hell out of any stragglers.

So today I am happy. Over the moon. And deeply grateful to the Universe, and especially to all of you. For your messages, e-mails and your prayers.

I've hardly told any of my real life friends yet (don't want to ruin anyone's half term!) so feeling the waves of support from you has really propped me up.

When I started this blog eight months ago I had no idea that I would come to rely on it so massively, or that at times it would feel like the only thing keeping me sane.

A special thank you to Jill who got her whole congregation to pray for me! Nobody's ever done anything like that for me before.

One of my readers happens to be a breast cancer survivor and a nurse. She sent me an e-mail entitled 'The dolphin didn't lie'. I must have read this mail at least twenty times. Here's an excerpt (I hope she doesn't mind me sharing):

I am making a guess here because I don't know you but I think that you have never asked "why me?" Because the question is really "why not me?" Not because of lifestyle, past misdemeanours etc but because everyone is dealt a bad hand at some point in their life be it divorce, bereavement, ill health, whatever! It's the old adage 'life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. Its about learning to dance in the rain.'

Funnily enough, I wrote a post on called Dancing in the Rain (click here) back in May - which now seems like another country.

And right now it may still be raining - after all I still have cancer - but I'm dancing in it, and the storm will pass.

Since I can't have a glass of champagne to celebrate, I have bought 2 boxes of Matchmakers (orange and mint flavour) which I'm going to eat until I feel physically sick.

(Keeping fingers crossed for my much beloved Aunt who gets her scan results on Friday)

I love you all.

SM x

Deals With The Universe

Do you remember when you were little doing deals with the Universe (or with God)?

I certainly did. I would say things like If I get a Cindy doll for Christmas I will never be mean to my little brother again, and will eat all my greens for ever and ever amen.

Then, hopefully, the much coveted Cindy doll would arrive, and I'd be - momentarily - phenomenally grateful. I'd hug my brother and eat some brussel sprouts.

Then I'd forget about it all. I'd move onto Barbie dolls or Girl's World, start pinching my brother when no-one's looking, and trying to get the dog to eat my green beans.

So, as I wait for the results from my scan yesterday, I thought that I would immortalise my deal with the Universe on the wonderful world wide web, so that, if I ever take anything for granted again, I can come back and read it.

Here it is:

Dear Universe,

If I find out today that my cancer is 'localised' and has not spread, I promise to:

1. Never, ever envy the lives or possessions of other people. I will always remember that love, family and health are truly the most important things in life, and that if you have those you are utterly blessed.

2. Make the most of every day and every moment. To treasure every bedtime story, hug, family meal, shared joke - all those little moments that make life special.

3. Be the sort of mother, wife and friend that others can rely on in a crisis, the one they turn to first. To be their rock when they need one, as people have been for me. And I'll help my children to grow up strong and wise, so that they can look after themselves when I'm no longer here.

4. Look after and respect my body. Our bodies are incredible machines, but they need us to keep them safe. I will never again fill my body with toxins and poisons (although chocolate is fine, and I'm not about to start posting recipes for kale smoothies).

5. Give back. I have spent most of my life focussing on ME. Through this blog, maybe a book, and through random acts of kindness, I will make sure that every day I give something back.

But, if it's spread, and I'm told to put my affairs in order, then all bets are off, Universe. I'll look up at you, cursing, from the gutter, empty vodka bottle in hand....

.....only kidding.

Huge thanks to you all for all your prayers and best wishes. You have helped me more than you can possibly imagine, and I love you *weeping*

SM x

P.S. I note that someone has found my blog by typing 'Real Mummy's Massive Tits' into Google. I do apologise if this blog is not what you were looking for.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Fear of the Unknown

If you're in the early days of quitting drinking, or you've still not quite taken the plunge, then I bet you're haunted by fear of the unknown.

Since we usually start drinking in our teenage years, and many of us ended up drinking every single day, we literally cannot imagine what life is like without our faithful pal.

We 'enthusiastic drinkers' tend to have few - if any - sober friends (killjoys!) who we can use as role models.

The fears that we grapple with go something like this:

1. Will I lose all my friends?
2. Will I ever be able to socialise again?
3. Will I ever be happy?
4. How will I deal with anxiety and stress?
5. What does 'sober' feel like?

Luckily, the sobersphere is filled with the all the answers you need from those of us who've trodden the path before you. Check out www.soberistas.com, this blog and the blogs of my lovely friends like The Wine Bitch, Anne in Sobriety, God Walked into This Bar and My Time to Shine.

Then you'll find that once you've got rid of the unknown, you've also got rid of the fear.

(By the way, a quick summary of the answers is as follows: (1) Only the toxic ones (2) Yes! But you'll socialise in a different way - less shallow, more rewarding (3) More than you can remember ever having been before (4) Way better than you're doing right now! (5) Freedom and peace)

For those of you who've been following my journey since my diagnosis with breast cancer last week, for the last few days I've been paralysed by fear of the unknown.

I've been keeping it all together for the kids who are on half term (imagine trying to do that with a couple of bottles of vino thrown into the mix!), but I keep having to take the dog out for walks so that I can weep silently in parks.

Today I have a PET scan. This involves being injected with a radioactive liquid (like the ReadyBrek boy) and then scanned so they can see if the cancer has spread anywhere else. This stuff is so horrible that I'm not allowed to cuddle the kids when I get home.

I get the results tomorrow. If they say that there's no spread I will be overjoyed (who'd have thought a week ago that you could be thrilled with the idea of having just breast cancer?). If the news is bad I may well fall off the waggon, as I'm not sure how I can deal with more. Becks Blue may have finally met its match.

My operation is scheduled for Friday. The kids are being great. Their main questions are as follows:
#1 how wonky are your boobs going to be? #2 will there be loads of blood? #3 can we keep your lump in a jar?

Hope all well with you lovely people.

SM x

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Back at Day One

Well, I went through the early days of alcohol withdrawal, into the pink cloud, and over the obstacle course (see my post on Obstacle Course).

Eventually I ended up in the promised land of happy sobriety.

Then - BAM - one cancer diagnosis, and it feels just like being back at Day One.

In the early days of not drinking I had a constant voice in my head - I called her the Wine Witch (see The Wine Witch) - banging on and on about all the reasons why I should drink. Now she's been replaced by the Voice of Doom which won't stop telling me I'm going to die.

Back then I was scared and apprehensive. I had no idea what was coming up, or whether I could cope. Ditto times one hundred.

I couldn't picture ever having fun, or feeling 'normal' again. Again, ditto.

And, funnily enough, the AA principles seem to be terribly relevant:

Admit you are powerless - oh yeah, baby.

Turn your will over to a Higher Power - in this case the breast consultant.

Have faith that all will be well - I'm trying, I really am.

Take one day at a time - each day is horribly long, with endless diagnostic tests, and waiting for results.

I'm sure that once all the tests are finished and I've had my op (in about a week's time), I'll be able to start moving forward. But, in the meantime, it's hell.

We told the kids today. Must have done a good job, because they seem perfectly relaxed about it all.

What I keep thinking is that frigging dolphin lied to me! (see my post: Let me not die while I'm still alive)

(Hope I didn't alarm you with the post title. Still not drinking.)

Love SM x



Thursday, 22 October 2015

I Need A Drink

I had a bad day yesterday.

Two days after the breast cancer diagnosis and it had started to sink in.

To distract myself, I took #1 (who is on half term) shopping on the King's Road. I was doing fine until I passed one of my favourite shops. It's a boot shop which has been there for about thirty years. It always has kick ass cowboy boots in the window, and it's - quite brilliantly - called R. Soles. (Say it out loud).

Now R. Soles is gone. Boarded up. And I suddenly felt unbearably sad. #1 couldn't understand why I was weeping over a boot shop closing down. But, obviously, it wasn't about the boots.

Then I  had to go back to hospital for an MRI scan. None of this is as simple as it sounds, as it involves finding someone to look after #1, and to pick up #2 and #3 from school, cook them supper and supervise homework.

Mr SM took a half day off to hold the fort, but that meant me going by myself.

I can already see the next few months requiring more of the endless juggling, favour pulling and passing the poor kids from pillar to post, when all they want is their Mum to be there, as normal, acting normal.

The MRI scan basically involved lying on my front with my boobs in two giant buckets (made for better endowed ladies than I), then being pushed into a tunnel resembling something out of Star Trek.

You have to lie still for 45 minutes, so you close your eyes and try to sleep, but it's so noisy it's like trying to snooze in the middle of a motorway or building site.

As I sat on the tube (underground train) on my way home, a giant wave of general bleurgh hit me, and silent tears started dripping down my face. This sort of behaviour in the country that invented the stiff upper lip is generally not acceptable, and is likely to get you arrested or sectioned.

Luckily, the general code of conduct on the tube is to ignore everything and everyone. Pretend you haven't seen it (whatever 'it' is).

(I once saw a man on the tube dressed in a smart suit and carrying a briefcase during morning rush hour. He'd obviously been on a bender the night before as he'd gone green. Everyone sitting around him was looking nervous. Eventually he put his briefcase on his lap, opened it, vomited into it, closed it again and carried on as normal. No-one said a word).

So there I was, weeping on the tube, being ignored like the vomiting commuter, and the wine witch was having a field day:

No-one would blame you if you had a drink! It's medicinal for f***s sake. When you quit you never expected this to happen....

I really, really needed a drink. I needed to take the edge off. I needed to escape for a while. I needed to give myself a treat, and since I've completely lost my appetite, chocolate cake just doesn't cut it any more.

But, at the same time, I know that I need a drink like a hole in the head (or in the left boob, in my case). Because just one drink wouldn't even begin to hit the spot. It would be a whole bottle. And then it would be a whole bottle every day until this has all gone away which - even in the best case scenario - is months into the future.

And there's nothing that breast cancer likes more than alcohol....

So, I used the old 'early days of sobriety' trick. I had a hot bath and went to bed early with a hot chocolate and a crappy novel.

After months of sleeping like a log (see Sleep, Glorious Sleep for more on how drinking screws up your shut-eye), I'm now becoming re-acquainted with my old friend: 3am.

(I went on some breast cancer support forums and, predictably, they were littered with advice to 'pour yourself a stiff vodka').

I've been awake for the last 5 hours fretting about my meeting with the consultant today to discuss my biopsy and MRI results, operation date and treatment plan.

I just don't want the news to get any worse.

Wish me luck x

If You've Got It, Flaunt It!

One of the great unfairness's of quitting drinking is that we often feel so alone.

You start out on this huge journey, utterly terrified, and it's on your mind constantly, yet nobody knows.

Over the initial few days or weeks you're exhausted. Your concentration is totally shot. You can't sleep. You have a horrible headache, and weird, annoying symptoms like constipation. You only feel truly happy when eating cake....

(see my post on Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms)

.....but you get little support, or pats on the back, or understanding.

If something bad happens, or someone is being horrible to you, you want to yell at them "Look mister! I'm having a tough time here, so cut me some slack!" but you don't.

If you quit smoking you shout it from the rooftops and everyone congratulates you and treats you like a hero. Quit drinking and they think you're odd, and treat you like a leper.

Getting breast cancer is way better on the sympathy stakes (although not so good in other ways, obvs).

Ironically, even though cancer isn't exactly something you choose to do - it's sort of foisted upon you, you're immediately defined as brave and courageous.

So I have decided to milk it. After all, I've always believed that if you've got it, you should flaunt it.

A couple of days ago I got a sodding parking ticket. I always - on principle - fight parking fines. I rarely have a leg to stand on, but that's beside the point.

Here's what I wrote to the local parking authority yesterday:

Dear Sir/Madam,

re: Parking Contravention Notice XXXXX

I do apologise. I accidentally parked in a bay that was temporarily suspended. I misread the date on the sign. It was entirely my fault, and I put your people to some trouble having to tow my car away.

However, the reason I misread the date was that I had just received a cancer diagnosis and my head was all over the place.

I realise that this does not mean you should cancel the fine, but - if you were to - it would restore my faith in humanity.

Should you wish to verify my story, please do call Prof X at the beast cancer unit, XX hospital.

Go on - make my day. I could do with some good news.

Kind regards

Mrs M.

So, what do you think my chances are? Do parking authorities have any compassion? I'll keep you posted.

And maybe one day people will be able to announce going sober with pride, and get all the understanding and congratulations they deserve.

In the meantime, you can find it here, and with all my friends in the sober blogosphere.

Love SM x

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Alcohol and Trauma

A few months ago I might have been able to imagine being sober while everything in life was going well, but I could never picture myself coping with anything majorly traumatic without a drink in hand.

Truth be told, in the early days I would have welcomed a minor trauma as a fabulous excuse to give up giving up.

Now I can honestly tell you that there is no problem in life that cannot be made worse by alcohol.

I have not had a good day.

I managed to get my appointment at the breast clinic bought forward to today. Although 8 out of ten breast lumps are benign (so do not panic if you find one), it appears that mine is not.

In the old days I would have escaped direct to a bar. By now I'd be legless and weeping. There's no way that I'd be able to keep my chin up in front of the children.

I was always aware that whilst I could maintain the fa├žade of 'high functioning alcohol addict' when life was going swimmingly, if life were to throw me a curve ball I'd be swimming in the stuff. The wheels would have well and truly come off and I'd be pouring vodka on the cornflakes at breakfast time. I'd have ridden the elevator all the way down to rock bottom.

But now, one of the only things I can imagine being worse than a cancer diagnosis is a cancer diagnosis with a hangover. The only thing worse than a sleepless night prior to the appointment would be a sleepless night with the alcohol horrors thrown in.

There's nothing better than facing your own mortality to make you realise that you don't want to blot out a single minute with alcohol, or to waste another morning with a hangover.

I'm sure that the reason I'm able to remain (relatively) positive rather than being horribly depressed is because I am sober.

And here are (at the risk of sounding like a punch-able Pollyanna) some reasons to be cheerful:

(1) I have one of the best consultant breast surgeons in the country.

(although his bedside manner is terrible. He copped a feel of my boobs for two minutes and then, without any build up, preamble or preparation said "breast cancer", leaving the poor nurse to run over with a box of tissues and scoop me off the floor).

(2) They are pretty sure (and will know more by Friday) that it is STAGE 1 - which, as cancers go, is a very good one to have.

(3) They have promised me that they will make sure I don't lose my hair (I don't want to scare the kids).

(4) One of the best ways to ensure that you don't get breast cancer, or (in my case) don't get it again, is to not drink alcohol. And I've ticked that one off already.

(5) Next time someone annoys me by grilling me as to why I'm not drinking I can say because it doesn't go well with chemotherapy which will really shut them up good and proper.

(6) The best way to deal with cancer treatment is to take it one day at a time. Baby steps. Stay in the moment - don't look ahead. Face your emotions. And after the last (nearly) eight months I have a post grad degree in all of that stuff.

(7) What better way to support my Aunt during her cancer treatment than to join in?

(8) I have the support of a fabulous family, and the constant distraction of three amazing kids who can always make me smile.

So please don't feel sorry for me, just do me a favour and think if SM can stay sober while having part of her boob hacked off then the rest blitzed with lasers and soaked in poison then I jolly well can too.

(And make sure you check your boobs regularly. My quick once over when I heard about my Aunt's diagnosis probably saved my life).

Have we got a deal?

Love SM x

Monday, 19 October 2015

Back from the GP

So I was rather hoping that the GP would say something like Oh that's just a harmless old cyst. Worry not, it'll go away by itself.

She didn't. She wants me to see a specialist urgently.

Luckily, through Mr SMs work I have private insurance, which means that instead of waiting two long weeks, I have an appointment on Wednesday (2 days from now).

You know the really annoying thing? She didn't even ask me how much I drink! I've been desperate to be asked that question by a medical professional and not have to lie!

So now I'm officially freaking out, and trying to keep the ship sailing along as usual so the children don't think anything's wrong. #1 is on half term this week, and they're all on half term next week.

Thank you all again for all your wonderful support.

SM x

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Don't Rub it in My Face!

Just a quick post this morning. I'm too pre-occupied with my meeting at the doc's tomorrow to talk about the lump (see I Need Help) to write too much.

So, last night we were having family supper. #1, #2 and #3 had gone to town laying the table. We had the best china and the silver cutlery out, plus a whole candelabra.

All was going swimmingly. I forgot about the lump. The children had momentarily suspended hostilities and were being nice to each other. #2 even ate some vegetables.

I was drinking the inevitable Becks Blue (I should buy shares). Mr SM was drinking red wine.

(I really don't mind him drinking. After all, unless you live somewhere like Saudi Arabia you have to accept that you're going to be surrounded by alcohol. What I do find deeply annoying, though, is the way he drinks just one glass. I mean what is all that about??? Tosser).

Then #2 leant across the table to grab something (probably some ketchup to hide the taste of the aforementioned vegetables) and he accidentally....

......knocked the glass of red wine right into my face.

There was a stunned silence. (I remember that, as silence is a most unusual event in the SM house).

I sat there with Mr SM's whole glass of fine Tuscan Barolo dripping off my nose and all over my hands. I fought the instinct to lick my fingers.

"Well, that's really not very fair, is it?" I said.

They all fell about laughing.

I mean, drink your glass of wine in front of me, why don't you, but please don't rub it in my face!

Happy sober Sunday to you all!

SM x

Positive thought for the day: If I have to have both boobs lopped off, then perhaps they can do a reconstruction and give me pert ones!

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


Thursday, 15 October 2015

I Need Help

I'm finding it very hard to write this. I'm trying not to cry, and trying to breathe properly. I'm hoping that writing this down will help, as I don't think I can talk to anyone right now.

Yesterday, I discovered that a much loved Aunt of mine has aggressive breast cancer. It was horrible news to hear (via my mother), and I haven't yet even begun to process it.

Then, with this in the back of my mind as I was getting dressed this morning, I noticed that one of my boobs looked slightly different from the other (apologies to any men reading this).

I checked it more closely.

I have a lump.

Needless to say, my first reaction was to want to drink half a bottle of vodka.

I didn't. I called the doctor. I can't even make an appointment until tomorrow morning, and the earliest I can go in is Monday morning.

I don't know what to do.

I keep being reminded of the quote I posted yesterday - Edith Piaf's last words: "everything damn you do in this life, you have to pay for."

Maybe this is payback time.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Regrets

When I was drinking, I lived pretty much day by day. Not in a good 'mindfulness' sense, but in a rather toxic way. Either I was recovering from the last drinking session, or planning the next (or both simultaneously), and I didn't really get a great deal further than that.

Since I quit, my horizons have telescoped outwards - both forwards and back. I spend a lot more time and effort planning for the future (see yesterdays post on The Possibility List), but I also spend more time haunted by flashbacks from the past.

Some of these flashbacks are the inevitable bad things I did while drunk. But many of them are the sepia tinted memories of childhood, which often make me want to weep with nostalgia. Why is it that sorting out our present makes us spend so much time in the past?

I had one of these flashbacks recently. I was driving the car and a song came on the radio. It was the incomparable Edith Piaf singing Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (I have no regrets).

(Please, please click here and turn the volume up high).

This song reminded me of one of my father's favourite stories. It was 1962. He was a handsome, hugely talented, twenty four year old who'd just been posted to Brussels by the British Civil Service.

One evening, Dad was offered a theatre ticket by a colleague who was stuck in the office and couldn't go. It was a show at the Gaite (which was later turned into one of my favourite nightclubs. It's probably now a luxury apartment complex...).

Dad knew nothing about the show, but he did know that the theatre always served a carafe of wine and a cassoulet for every theatre goer to accompany the performance (there was a wooden ledge running in front of all the seats which served as a table). Given that he was a bachelor and unable to even boil an egg, a free meal was too good an opportunity to miss.

Dad tucked into his dinner, rather hoping for a Moulin Rouge type of spectacle with lots of long legs, perky bosoms and feathers. Instead a raddled old lady stepped onto the stage, alone, and walked up to the microphone. He started to regret his decision, and to plan an early exit.

Then she opened her mouth and started to sing. Only my father could end up seeing the legendary Edith Piaf by accident!

After I was reminded of this story I looked up Edith on Wikipedia. Yes, you guessed it: she was one of us....

She died less than a year after Dad saw her sing. And she wasn't the old lady he remembers. When he saw her she was forty-six years old. Exactly the same age as me.

Edith had a tragic life. She was named after the British nurse, Edith Cavell, who was executed exactly 100 years ago yesterday for helping allied soldiers escape from German occupied Belgium. Her mother abandoned her at birth, and she was bought up in a bordello by her grandmother and a bevvy of prostitutes.

Edith was blind for four years of her childhood. At seventeen she had her own daughter, Marcelle, who she also abandoned. Marcelle died of meningitis aged two. It is rumoured that Piaf slept with a man to pay for her funeral.

The love of Edith's life died in a plane crash in 1949, on his way to meet her.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Edith became addicted to alcohol and morphine. Despite three attempts at rehab she couldn't beat her demons. She died at the age of forty-seven from liver cancer.

In memory of Edith, I try to have no regrets. I cannot regret a decade, or more, of my life. A lot of it was a great deal of fun. I had three wonderful children, and managed, somehow, to do a half decent job of getting them through early childhood.  My past got me to where I am now, and that's a pretty good place to be.

Regrets can haunt you. They can paralyse you, and stop you moving forward. That's why 'making amends' is so fundamental to AA (see my post on Making Amends).

Don't be held back by regrets of the past. If you are, make amends and move forwards. The key thing is to make sure that you have a future that you won't regret.

Sadly, Edith's last words, as her liver killed her in a final act of revenge, were not non, je ne regrette rien. Her last words were "Every damn thing you do in this life, you have to pay for."

Don't let that happen to you.

Love SM x

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Possibility List

One of the many side effects of heavy drinking is how it makes your life gradually smaller and smaller, until - if you get right to rock bottom - it's just you in an empty room, staring at the bottom of an empty bottle. It strips your life of possibility.

(See my post Let Me Not Die While I Am Still Alive)

Children are the antithesis of this. Their whole lives are filled with possibility.

They could become brave firefighters, visionary artists or life saving surgeons.

Our job as parents is to ensure that as many doors stay open for them as possible, that they have the courage and the confidence to walk through those doors, and that we support whichever choice they make.

As we get older, more and more of the doors shut. That's life. I know, for example, that I will never, ever be a ballet dancer. That door slammed behind me many years ago, along with a whole corridor of others.

Problems arise when you suddenly realise that there are no more doors to choose from. You're totally stuck in a rut.

This, I believe, is what leads to your classic mid life crisis, or just a low level rumbling depression.

It's what makes men buy a Harley Davidson and run off with their PA, and it's what makes women drink more and more. (Please forgive the stereotypes! I'm all for women buying Harley's and finding themselves a toyboy, obviously).

When I was still at University, and the world was my oyster, I had this theory of the Possibility List.

Back then, the list was about boys. I was, I would tell me friends (at length), perfectly happy being single, so long as I had a good Possibility List.

The possibility list was the list of men (boys) that you could, or might, go out with in the future. It would go something like this:

1. William - sweet and earnest. You know he has a crush on you, but you suspect he's just a bit too wet.
2. Richard - gorgeous rugby player. Currently has a girlfriend, but there's definitely a spark there, and who knows what may happen when his relationship finally fizzles out.
3. Harry - You've locked eyes several times during lectures on micro-economics. He hasn't made a move yet, but you're bound to see him at Ariane's party on Saturday....

The thing about the possibility list is that it gives life a feeling of optimism, of possibility, of momentum. It makes you realise that any current issues you have are temporary, and all you need to do is be open to potential and cast out a few fishing lines.

My Possibility List theory caught on, and many an hour was spent with girlfriends (accompanied by lots of cigarettes and bottles of wine) writing and re-writing lists, ordering and reordering priorities and, with much ritual, crossing off candidates who'd fallen short of expectations.

(Perhaps if I'd spent more time reading Keynes and writing essays I would have got a First).

If you've recently quit drinking don't worry about the possibility list. Just hunker down, be good to yourself and eat cake (if necessary). Just not drinking in itself is opening your world up to endless possibility.

However, if you've been sober for a while then think about casting out a few of those fishing lines. Think about creating a few more open doors. Join a dating site. Send out your CV. Sign up for an evening course. Life is short, and we've wasted enough of it.

After a decade of digging myself a rut and then getting well and truly stuck in it, I have finally taken action. Over the last two weeks I've submitted my young adult novel for two unpublished novel awards, plus I've sent it to a literary agent. I was terrified, but realised that I have absolutely nothing to lose (see my post Feel the Fear).

I've also started working on the plot for an adult novel with a deeply flawed heroine who is (surprise surprise) a secret drinker, and I've taken on an unpaid job doing marketing for a charity event.

All of this may come to nothing, but - for the first time in years - I have a possibility list, and that feels good.

Happy, sunny, sober Sunday everyone!

SM x

Friday, 9 October 2015

Fear of Fridays

Quitting drinking has changed many of my relationships: my relationship with Chablis, obviously, but also my relationship with my husband, my children and....with Friday.

Friday has always been a special day of the week - a significant day.

When I was little I loved Fridays. No homework! And in our house, Friday evening was my mother's night off cooking.

As my Dad was unable to even boil an egg, this meant it was takeaway night. Fish and chips, or chop suey in front of It's a Knockout, or The Two Ronnies.

Plus, on Friday nights there was that delicious anticipation of Saturday morning!

Glorious Saturday morning: No need to get out of bed, all groggy and gummy eyed and dress in the hated school uniform.

I could just lie there and wait for the gentle thud on the doormat as the paper boy delivered my weekly comic (Misty, until I got interested in boys, when I swapped it for Jackie).

I'd read my comic in bed, cover to cover, then sneak quietly downstairs in my PJs to binge watch Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. (I realise I'm showing my age here).

When I was a teenager, one of my best friends was Jewish, and she would invite me to Friday night supper (Shabbat). I loved it. I seriously considered converting to Judaism. All those candles, rituals, generations of family around the table, gently teasing each other, and chicken soup with dumplings.

As I got older, and started working, Friday became even more special. The end of the working week!

We'd often start celebrating at lunch time, with a team trip out to a local restaurant. We'd return half heartedly to our desks, shuffle some things around, and postpone as much as possible to Monday morning, then we were out on the town! Letting out hair down. Going wild. We'd earned it!

Then I became a 'full time Mum.' But I still had a special place in my heart for Fridays. Friday was the day when I'd often have a lunch arranged with friends (and a glass or two of wine).

If not, then it was a perfectly valid excuse to open a bottle straight after the school run, either with a friend over a 'playdate', or - if necessary - on my own. We deserved it - hell, it was the weekend!

(In this, it appears, I was not alone. A recent report by Alcohol Concern stated a huge increase in mothers drinking from 3.30pm.)

But, a few years ago, Fridays started scaring me. I loved and hated them in equal measure. Whatever method I was currently employing to 'moderate' (no drinking on weekdays, only drinking beer, no drinking alone etc etc), the gloves were always off on Friday.

And it was getting out of control. Whatever promises I'd made myself, the wine witch would start yabbering on at me from lunch time onwards: come on! It's Friday! You deserve it! You're a grown up, you need to have some fun. You've been so good.....

Inevitably, I'd start drinking by 4pm latest, so by the time the husband got back from work I'd have drunk a bottle. I'd then drink another one with him. I'd end up grumpy, shouty, and exhausted, falling asleep on the sofa by 9pm. Unless we were going out, in which case I'd be a total liability. As always, I'd wake up at 3am, sweating and hating myself.

Then I quit, and my beloved Fridays became the worst day of the week. I'd manage to not drink from Monday through Thursday, but I'd get to Friday and feel totally....flat. Nothing to get excited about. Nothing to reward myself with. Dull and grey. Boring, boring, boring. It felt like nothing would ever be fun again.

(See my post Fed up Friday, Angst and Wobbles)

And, to be honest, that Flat Friday Feeling carried on for months. Staying in felt....featureless. Going out was hard work. Friday was the day I'd spend hours arguing with the wine witch (see my posts on Wavering and The Wine Witch), and that was exhausting.

But, somewhere along the line, my love of Fridays started to come back.

Now, from as early as Thursday evening I start getting a tingling of anticipation. Not because I'm going to be going wild on Friday, letting my hair down and getting legless, but for the same reasons I had as a small child....

.....Friday evenings: no homework. A relaxed meal with the family, and watching TV together, with the knowledge that there's no school run on Saturday! I still get up early, but I get the papers and a coffee and go back to bed, just like I used to with my Jackie magazine, while the children lounge around in PJs and play Minecraft.

So if you're struggling through the early days, and are feeling cross and depressed because it's Friday, then hang in there. You haven't lost that fabulous Friday feeling forever. It's just on hold....

Happy Friday!

SM x




Thursday, 8 October 2015

Alcohol and Parenting

I'm not a great parent.

I was astounded when they allowed me to walk out of the hospital with a helpless, newborn baby twelve years ago.

"Where's the instruction manual?" I wanted to shout. "I have no idea what I'm doing here! I'm an amateur!"

They say it takes a village to raise a child. And in the old days you would be surrounded by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings who would all help teach you, and your offspring, how to do the growing up thing.

These day we are much more geographically spread out. We don't have the same support network of older, wiser women.

We muddle along, confused by the conflicting advice of the 'experts,' like Gina Ford and Supernanny. We rely on our girlfriends (who are also making it up as they go along), and smug, self righteous strangers on the internet.

Just as we start to feel like we're getting good at the whole baby thing, we suddenly have school aged kids, and a whole new set of challenges. Start feeling a bit more able to cope with those, then BAM - they grow a foot, a crop of pimples and become smelly, hormonally challenged teenagers!

It's no wonder we need a good glass (gallon) of vino at the end of the day.

It's only now that I see what a useless parenting prop alcohol is....

I was putting the children to bed last night, when I realised that my house is now peaceful. Nobody shouts. This is a major change from few months ago.

When the children were small, I would get them into bed by 7pm. The bedtime routine was pretty exhausting - tea, bath, milk, nappies, stories, cuddles etcetera, times three. But then I could sink back into an armchair, with hours of 'grown up time' stretching ahead of me.

As the children grew up, however, bedtime got later and later, and wine o'clock crept earlier and earlier.

My evenings would go something like this:

5.30pm - children all home from various schools and after school activities. Pour glass of vino while making kids supper.

6.30pm - Pour second glass of vino while trying, in vain, to get them to focus on their homework.

7.30pm - Pour third glass of wine while getting them in and out of bath and ready for bed.

By this time it would be around 8pm, and I'd be trying to do bedtime stories and get supper ready for husband while getting more exhausted, frazzled and - let's face it - drunk.

The combination of tired, stressed and drunk would lead, inexorably, to SHOUTING!

By the time Mr SM was back from work (at around 8.30pm) I'd be yelling at the three children in rotation, desperate to get them into bed as quickly as possible so I could sit down with the husband and share a(nother) civilized bottle of vino with dinner.

But one thing I've now learned about bringing up children is that the only real way to teach them is by example.

You can't tell a child not to swear, then swear like a trooper around them. You can't teach them manners and kindness if you don't display them yourself. If you show them that alcohol is necessary to have fun and to relax they'll believe it. And if you yell all the time then so do they....

So we did not have a peaceful house. I would yell, and the kids would all yell. At each other. At me. At their father.

The mornings involved just as much shouting as the evenings, as I'd be tired and grumpy, and the getting ready for school routine was all just a bit much.

But now I don't mind that the children aren't going to bed until 9pm. I enjoy having the extra time with them. We spend ages over stories. I teach them how to cook while getting supper ready for Mr SM. We chat about our days. I'm not constantly trying to get rid of them.

And mornings? I love them! I wake the children up by saying "Wakey wakey! It's another glorious day!" I am punch-ably chirpy.

I hardly ever shout any more. And if the children ever do, I say, very quietly, "Please don't shout. We don't shout in this house." And I am not being hypocritical.

I am still very much a work in progress as far as parenting goes, but I have, at last, created a home that feels happy, relaxed and peaceful. It's still sometimes very noisy, but that's because we're laughing and dancing to bad disco music.

If anyone was ever foolish enough to ask me to write a parenting manual, the very first page would say: Put down the vino. It is not your friend. Alcohol and children mix like oil and water. The wine witch is not Mary Poppins....

Love SM x

Related post: Cravings and Tantrums

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Fate

Do you believe in fate?

Can it really be the case that the position of the stars above our heads at birth, some divine being, or our actions in past lives, can determine the way our futures unfold?

I find the idea that we are not masters of our own fate, captains of our own souls, rather unnerving. I prefer to see the future as an unfolding, featureless landscape that only we can design and mould.

But then I thought back recently to a night, almost exactly twenty years ago, in New York City.

Back then I was in my mid twenties. I was living in London, burning the candle at both ends, and working in one of the hottest Ad Agencies in town.

My new, young, CEO must have been reading up on staff motivation and retention, because he decided to award a prize for the team that created the best ad campaign of the year. My team won. The prize was an all expenses paid trip for two to Manhattan for a long weekend, staying at the newly opened, seriously hip, W Hotel.

I invited one of my best girlfriends, who was completely crazy, a real hoot, and, like me, a bad girl. She also happened to be a Countess.

Back in those days, travelling with someone with an aristocratic title was a serious bonus. We were upgraded to Business Class, and the hotel sent a stretch limo to collect us at the airport. We had a ball.

New York, years ahead of London, had instituted a ban on smoking in public places. We were both serious chimneys, and were not at all happy about this turn of events. Luckily I'd done my homework, and I found a restaurant which still, for some reason, had a smoking area. It was called Raoul's, in Soho.

The other reason I loved the sound of this place was that there was a resident fortune teller who you could consult after dinner. (I just looked up their website. It's still there, but no mention of a fortune teller any more. Shame).

French cooking, copious cigarettes and a palm reader - what's not to like? I thought. (Although that expression hadn't been invented back then).

We went to the top of a huge skyscraper first, where we sat at a chrome and glass bar and had a martini each looking over the city, then we had a wonderful dinner at Raoul's with a bottle of fine red wine.

After dinner I went and found the fortune teller. I had recently started dating Mr SM, and wanted to know if he was 'The One.'

The fortune teller was sketchy on this point. He could well be, she said, without much detail or interest.

What she did want to talk about, however, was alcohol. She said that my future involved writing and alcohol, and that I would help lots of people. She could tell I was confused, because she said that it wouldn't make any sense to me for a long time.

I wasn't just confused, I was insulted! I wasn't drunk. In those days I was a total 'normie.' Yes, I drank a fair amount, but cigarettes were my addiction back then, not booze. It would be another decade before I'd be on first name terms with the wine witch. So why was this lady banging on about booze???

Well, now it makes sense.

So was all of this just written in the stars? Was Juliet always destined to die young (see When the Wine Witch Wins)? Was I always going to become a lush?

And what next?

I still like to think that we can shape our own destiny, so long as we don't leave it in the hands of the wine witch....

What do you think?

Love SM x

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Hello Mojo! Where the hell have you been?

We went to a really big party last night. It was a friend's Significant Birthday, and he'd gone to town.

The theme was Game of Thrones. There were 2 huge marquees, decked out with all the mediaeval paraphernalia. Goblets, thrones, huge banners, furs, velvets and dragons.

There was snow, ice sculptures, white walkers and wildlings. There was a dwarf (obviously), jesters, flame throwers and a lady with a large snake (not a euphemism).

In the 'dark drinking days' I probably wouldn't have gone.

You see, it was in the country. Over an hour by car down the motorway. Going would have involved either (a) one of us not drinking (not possible), (b) hiring a driver to take us there and back (horribly pricey, on top of present, costumes, babysitter etc) or (c) finding somewhere to stay locally (ditto expensive, plus a real hassle).

But two months ago, when I got the invitation (on parchment, with a wax seal), I thought wow, that looks amazing. I'll drive. If we leave by 12.30am, we'll be back by 1.30am. Simples.

I dressed up. I rooted through the Wardrobe of Past Lives and Shattered Dreams, and came across a boned corset with lace arms and huge feathers round the neckline (I told you I had a wild past....). I added a new, slinky black skirt and high boots, and a waist length hairpiece (also, for some reason, in my wardrobe).

I took a picture and stuck it on Facebook. This is significant. I don't think I have ever posted a picture of myself on Facebook. (see my post Mirrors and Photographs).

Mr SM was looking grumpy. He wanted to stay home and watch the rugby. I dressed him up in a rather musty smelling old fur coat I'd dug out from the cellar (aka the Pit of Despair), a crazy, black wig and a plastic sword belonging to #2. He looked like a cross between Jon Snow (which was the intention) and Monica Lewinsky (which wasn't).

Mr SM drove us there, and I had a quick peek at Facebook. By the time we had arrived I'd had around fifteen comments saying things like Looking HOT SM! Which meant that, rather than slink in, already half a bottle down, and head straight for the bar (like the old days), I STRUTTED!

My re-discovered Mojo and I OWNED that party (without rudely eclipsing our amazingly generous hosts, obvs).

Now, my local friends, who see me regularly, haven't commented hugely on my transformation. The changes have come gradually. I've lost, on average, half a pound a week.

But most of these people hadn't seen me for over a year. I have never had so many compliments in my life! (Except on my wedding day, when I did look genuinely spectacular, thanks to an army of professionals, a hugely expensive dress and a crash diet). 

I must have been described as 'skinny' (which I'm absolutely not, but everything is relative, and I was wearing fabulous corsetry) at least ten times.

A teenaged daughter of a friend said she hadn't recognised me. "Oh, I've lost a bit of weight," I said. "Well yes, but your whole face had changed!" she replied.

I talked to everyone I knew. I remembered their names, and the names of their children (sounds simple, but an impossible feat when drunk, I find). I threw some shapes on the dance floor (dancing sober! Great fun! Who knew?).

I drove home, listening to the BBC World Service, Mr SM snoring, drunkenly, in the passenger seat.

And today, I woke up to a sunny day. Tired but happy. In my own bed. Remembering a great night, when I insulted no-one, managed not to do anything rude or embarrassing, and re-discovered my mojo.

And, just to make it a perfect day, Mr SM has a hangover....

Joy.

SM x

Friday, 2 October 2015

7 MONTHS SOBER!

It's funny how when you first stop drinking time crawls along - agonising hour by agonising hour. You follow the old mantra of 'one day at a time', and one day is an eternity.

But now - blimey, where did that last month go?

One of the reasons I was terrified of quitting was that I feared life being boring. I've always wanted to be extra-ordinary, special. Don't we all?

I thought that drink had the ability to make everything more. More fun, more wild, more interesting. (see my post Rebel Without a Cause)

By the same token, I assumed that 'sober' would be flat, dull and grey.

But the truth is that drink, because it blurs all the lines and rounds off all the edges, takes away your ability to see joy in anything ordinary, or to see the ordinary at all. If it's not jumping up and down and yelling "LOOK AT ME" we pass it by, overlook it, trample all over it.

We even start to actively fear the ordinary. Ordinary emotions, like anxiety, boredom and anticipation. The minute we feel them we medicate them away.

One of the joys of being sober is re-discovering joy in the everyday, the ordinary. A sunrise (who knew?). A tomato, basil and mozzarella salad. A child's fingers tickling the back of your neck.

You find that the flat and grey, when you look up close, is teeming with colour and life and little miracles.

That's why this quote by William Martin from the Parent's Tao Te Ching made me cry:

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

If we can't see the joy in the ordinary, then how on earth can we teach our children to find it?

Being sober is more 'ordinary', but that is its joy. I've had it with the artificial ups and downs of drunk.

And, you know what? The extraordinary really does take care of itself.

Just you wait and see....

SM x

Related posts: Six Months Sober!