Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Matrix

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

It's my birthday. I'm forty seven years old (don't tell anyone) today. And I'm feeling...... sad.

I've been trying to put my finger on why, so I can explain it to you. I'm not usually morose. I'm usually a glass half full kind of girl (I'm not going to make a joke about that one again!).

The closest I can get to a description is this:

When you quit drinking, your brain starts to fire on all cylinders for the first time in a long while. People describe finding long lost talents and huge stores of creativity, and that is certainly the case for me.

I've always loved words, but I'd written nothing more challenging than a shopping list for years. Then I quit drinking, started this blog, and the words just began pouring out of my finger tips like someone had reconnected some dodgy plumbing somewhere in my head.

A reader sent me an e-mail recently, describing how she drinks to cope with a hugely high powered and stressful job. I understand. I did the same.

But now, I look back and think how amazing I would have been at that job if I'd been sober! Imagine - firing on all cylinders from 7am. Full of energy after a great night's sleep. Calm, collected, but buzzing with ideas.

I'd have been unstoppable!

And that's what's making me rather sad. I'm forty-seven years old (if I write it down often enough, I might get used to the idea), and my tango with a malignant tumour a few months ago has made me realise that LIFE IS SHORT!

I really want to achieve more. Create something. Leave a legacy. Make my kids proud.

I have a finished novel in my desk drawer, and plot lines for three more in my head. I need to get over my fear of failure and stop letting life (and cancer) get in the way.

Apart from anything else, we need the money. Poor Mr SM is feeling the strain of having been pretty much the sole breadwinner for the last seven years.

We spend more than we earn every year which is, obviously, unsustainable. My birthday party on Friday will take me right up to the limit of my credit lines.

And I want to be a good example for my children - especially my daughters.

About three years ago, when #3 was at nursery school, the teacher asked them all what they wanted to be when they grew up. They said things like 'a doctor', 'a fireman' and 'a teacher.' Then it was #3's turn. She said, very proudly, 'I want to chat on the 'phone and go the gym, like Mummy.'

I was mortified! I'm a FEMINIST! I was a Board Director of a top ten advertising agency before the age of thirty!

Getting sober is like being unplugged from The Matrix.

You begin to realise that for years you've been floating around, anaesthetised, in a sort of dream world. Gradually you start to see the world as it really is.

It's brighter, more raw, more exciting. But it's also scary and dangerous.

Sometimes life off-Matrix is so hard that you consider going back to the floaty dream place, but having seen the Matrix for what it really is, you know that would be madness. You realise that the people still in it are prisoners, even if they don't know it yet.

Now I see the real world, with all its beauty and potential, I want to be like Neo and kick the ass out of it.

But I have so far to go. I've not had karate training. I've wasted so much time. And that's what's making me sad.

Love SM x

42 comments:

  1. Happy birthday! I started reading your blog about 4 months ago, and nothing has been as helpful or relatable for me than your beautiful words of wisdom. Before I came across your blog, I hadn't read any blogs routinely. Now I check for your words pretty much every day, and I am always completely amazed by how similar they are to the thoughts in my head. Thank you for everything you have done to help support other people in their efforts at sobriety. I stopped drinking about 4 months ago, had a slip-up during a week's vacation in January, and I'm back working hard again to stay sober from here on. I've read several of the books you recommended, I've joined Soberistas, but honestly, your words continue to be my go-to inspirational ideas, most every day. Thank you and happiest of birthdays!

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  2. Happy Birthday SM!! Look back at what you have achieved this year, at least five drinking years worth in one- and the wisdom of experience to appreciate it, wishing you much birthday love xx go get your book published- you have huge talent!!

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  3. Happy Birthday SM! You need to write/publish a book because you are an amazing writer. The Sober World needs you.

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  4. Oh bless you. First off Happy Birthday. Birthdays in your 40's can be like that I can remember feeling sad every birthday for no real reason and just wanting to be on my own and think, especially after my mother died. But as for achievements well you have two big ones in the last year, staying sober and getting through cancer. No mean achievement done side by side. You have a LOT of people on here that thank you every day (perhaps silently) for the support and encouragement they have gotten to stay sober. You really have changed peoples lives through your writing. Of course all of that is in secret though. I know what you mean about a role model for kids though. I think most people find themselves saying "I wasn't always mum" especially if you stop work ( which I did when they were small). I think you have huge potential to write - this blog is far more interesting and entertaining than ANY self help book I've read ( including the great Jason Vale). Dust off those books in the drawer and get at it. You have got years ahead of you to do what you want. You are sober! You can do anything. Don't waste time worrying about the past, its gone. Some people never get straight, you are one of the lucky ones, but its not luck - you have straightened yourself out through sheer hard work and taken the rest of us with you. Sorry for a long ramble but you really deserve to enjoy your birthday today. Chin up nearly 1 whole year sober. Xx

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  5. Happy Birthday SM, please get that Novel to a publisher, your blog is so well written and I have every faith that your novel will be a cracker. xx

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  6. Happy birthday! Keep writing you are great at it. Whether you have a big important job in the city or a job as a waitress, this sober game is all the same which makes us unique. Keep at it everyone, a bin collecter, a city banker or a beautician keep being sober xx

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  7. What Sharon said, all of it, above.

    Those down days are gonna happen. 'Sall there is to it. Drinking, sober...they're gonna happen now and then. And that feeling that life is passing you by.....whilst
    you're at home and doing the most important No. 1 job...well, that's just part f the package. I recall it well.

    But, oh my SM!! Thanks to your openness and humor and way with words.......you are making a difference - a huge, incredible difference - in the lives of many people, folks needing a lifeline and....guess what?? ....you've thrown it out. True, there may not be monetary compensation and little public recognition. But dear girl, you are helping, TRULY helping people with one of life's most difficult struggles. Give yourself a hug - and one from each of us out here. THAT should keep you busy for a while!

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  8. Happy Birthday SM! <3
    Hop to it! Ill buy your book when it comes out :D
    Embrace the sad. You're LIVING life. Better to actually feel everything than feel just numb. I love your blog so much, would have never made it to day 8 (already!?) without you xo
    Enjoy your special day

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  9. No no no it isn't wasted time, it curved around and wiggled but it was part of the journey - would you be who you are today without that journey? Would you have got sober without that journey? You can do it, you can write those novels and all you need is to believe - come on, you defeated the Wine Witch, how hard can a few words be?

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  10. Happy Birthday! You don't know this, but you've famous in my world! I’m 53 and have drank heavily for the past 20+ years; until I came across you blog back in November, I didn’t think I’d have a chance at this sober life, but I’m doing it. Hugely, in part, because of you. My husband, daughter and mother thank you immensely. They can’t believe I have gone without drinking for 53 days straight. Nor can me really. But because of you, your strength, your wit, your obvious gift of writing, and sharing your journey of life, I don’t want to give up being sober. You are famous in my world! However, I realize in your real life, there is so much more you want to do for yourself. So feeling sad, for now, isn’t a bad thing. Give yourself some of that self-love you’ve written about prior. And know this, YOU ARE KICKING THE ASS OUT OF THIS WORLD!

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  11. Hipy papy bthuthdth thuthda bthuthday. From Owl; Pooh was impressed remember! I so get the I should have done more, time is running out thing. But... I think the most important thing for kids (even if they don't articulate it) is being there. And you are leaving a legacy for all of us reading your blog, loving your writing, feeling inspired, muttering "that's so right" to ourselves... and laughing. We all need to laugh (with you not at you). Also an awful lot of people with stressful do jobs do drink, don't they? Maybe even most of them?

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  12. Love your blog! Keep up the great work and happy birthday. I started my journey this month and have just discovered your blog. I can really relate to so much that you write about. My feelings currently move from being happy and contented to sad or angry but I try to focus on all the positive things I have experienced in the last 24 days and this really helps. Enjoy your Birthday.

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  13. By legacy, I didn't mean that when you're gone we're all going to say, loved reading her blog. What I mean is you are enabling us to live a more sober life!

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  14. Happy Birthday!! I've been consuming your blog among others for a while now. I started from the beginning and am reading forward..I'm at about May 2015. When I happened to catch it was your birthday today I had to finally come out of the lurking shadows. I can never say thank you enough to you and all others who blog in regards to this topic. It's made my path not only possible but plausible. I'm 31 days today. Tomorrow marks the longest I've been without alcohol since I started consuming 17 years ago. It's a relief to be here. Maybe go back and read some of your earlier posts & comments and remind yourself how far you've come & all the good you've accomplished. Again - Happy Birthday!

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  15. SM right behind you! A month behind you. Your feeling down? Well me too! I could give you a laundry list of really life altering events that have occurred during this past year. Not cancer but just about everything else.

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    1. Want to let you know you are not alone with these raw emotions. I feel EVERYTHING! Some days are good and other days are the worst.
      However, I can make a very long list as to what has gone well since sobering up a year ago. I hear from others it's normal. Our brain and bodies are healing and mending the damage brought on by the poison we consumed in copious amounts. Time and patience

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    2. is what we need to remember. We didn't become addicted overnight and it's going to take a little while longer to be normal again, a new normal that is. I will not pick up today. One day at a time.
      Boston Strong/Boston Sober

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  16. Oh SM you inspire so many and your's is my favourite sober blog (and I keep an eye on about 12). I'm still a lurker and still not sustaining sobriety but I keep on trying and never give up on giving up for good as despite my trepidation feel that is the pathway to a happy life for me. You inspire me daily and your blog has kept me from a drink more times than I can recall. Happy birthday SM - I can't wait to read your books. Thank you for keeping us all laughing, crying and helping me realise that sober can be cool. Big hugs xo

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  17. Happy Birthday, darling girl! Listen, you will probably be in rude health until you are well into your 90s, having knocked the booze and ciggies on the head when you did. You will most likely have another 47 years but having done and learned most of the hard stuff. Imagine if you had not decided to stop drinking? You go SM! Big, big hugs xxx

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  18. Happy birthday SM. Wish I was 47 again!!!

    Justonemore

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  19. Wishing you all the best on your 47th birthday SM! Almost a year of this blog and it's still going strong. Well done you! Keep up the good work. Big love LNM x

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  20. Happy Birthday! Hope you had a wonderful 47.

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  21. Happy Birthday - I concur with the others (the past is the past - look forward to the future with optimism and excitement). On the book topic, might I suggest that you review your first year of SM blogging? Read chronologically (as I and others have done) it's a great read and I dare say the foundation for a book? Thanks again for sharing your inspirational journey with all of us.

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  22. Happy birthday SM! Perfectly normal to feel like that on your birthday and I know for me being 'just' a mum and not a Chairman of the Board makes your feel like you 'sweep the streets you used to own'(apologies to Chris Martin). Anyway, it will get better and just listen to all those voices above me that explain what a remarkable job you have done over the last 12 months. We all love you a lot.
    As for regrets about what could have been? Yesterday's gone SM, so don't stop thinking about tomorrow!
    Happiest of celebrations to you!

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  23. Happy birthday.
    I wrote a post called easy does it recently. Read the comments. They might speak to you.
    Somehow we all are inclined to look for external validation that we are useful and valued. You are. 100%. But it's easy to forget.
    When we choose to do one thing it does take away from oth re. Your little monsters might really love having you home. It sounds like you like being home.
    That is just as important a job than one with a title.

    Easy does it | ainsobriety
    https://ainsobriety.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/easy-does-it/



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  24. Happy happy SM! I really get the feeling of remorse and wasted time but on the flip side, you wouldn't be who you are today without those experiences behind you. Be kind to yourself as there is a huge online community who think you're pretty ace. *hugs*

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  25. Happy Birthday and thank you. To have had such a positive impact on so many people is amazing. I totally relate to the beating yourself up mentality that you haven't achieved enough. Take it from one who knows- YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO. X

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  26. Happy Birthday and thank you. To have had such a positive impact on so many people is amazing. I totally relate to the beating yourself up mentality that you haven't achieved enough. Take it from one who knows- YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO. X

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  27. dear SM, turning 49 this year and just a year sober, I totally get you. nonetheless, happy happy birthday. I'm sure next 47 will be as grand as last one. xx

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  28. Happy birthday SM. Have your blogs turned into a book. One years worth. You are almost there. More and more people need your help, along with your talent and wit.

    Tonight, let the moon calm your gloom, ready for tomorrow's bloom. Have a wonderful birthday party!! Best wishes x.

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  29. Hope you had a wonderful birthday! I've nothing that can be added to all the lovely remarks above, but I second every one. You deserve them all.
    SO xx

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  30. I do understand. I, too, know that I could have been SO MUCH MORE. But ... I don't think you should attribute this entirely to your drinking. I think most people hitting middle age have that same feeling that they've wasted time, life is short and what do they have to show for it?
    Now - get your arse in gear. There are many good years left to you.

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  31. Happy, Happy Birthday, SM!!
    What a life you have led and every experience has brought you to this spot. I am on your heels with 8 months behind me but 11 years older. It took me that long to realise what alcohol was doing to me!
    So embrace your day and revel in your victory over alcohol.
    Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.
    Many happy returns xx

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  32. Happy birthday for yesterday SM! Hope you had a lovely day. Now you have your party to look forward to! A x

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  33. Missed this yesterday, so happy belated birthday. I love your blog. I'm sure that you'll become a famous writer one day soon. X

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  34. Belated happy birthday from me too. I will also turn 47 this year and totally get what you're saying but I really don't have regrets cos life is too short. I think it's an age thing too (mid life crisis). I'm panicking and desperate to get back to work after 10 years at home but have to keep telling myself to calm down and just take each day as it comes. I fully intend to work for at least 15 years (if I enjoy my job as much as I used to) so feel excited that a new phase of my life is about yo begin. So have a good cry and pick yourself up. Your blog is amazing and has got me this far (almost 10 months). I am sure there is a lot of good things coming your way.... maybe need to visit a fortune teller :-)

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  36. A very belated happy birthday SM, hope you had a super day! I love your blogs so much and am back reading from day 1 again! I hope you enjoy your birthday celebrations xx

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  37. Happy Birthday one day left SM ! Words can't express how you're helping me, I'm so grateful for your posts and make no mistake, you're a truly wonderful writer. I completely related to your birthday blues, I turned 50 last year. I'm divorced with two wonderful children, I have a big crazy career that I love but my ex has moved on (with the woman he cheated with) and the aloneness of my situation hit hard. So of course my friends threw me a big surprise party, I love them but to say this was a milestone I would have happily ignored is an understatement. So I drank, did I ever! So much wine that the hangover was epic and to add to the shame and humiliation, I blacked out most of the party. My last drink was Jan. 31, I also want to be a good example to my daughter and my little boy has autism, I need to be present for him, for both of them and everyday I feel so much better, so much stronger and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, just thank you.

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