I've had a pretty tumultuous year, what with giving up a decades long booze habit, and then dealing with breast cancer. And you know what? In many ways the two experiences were similar.
Both involve going through the wringer physically. And then, by far the harder part, dealing with the emotional fall out.
In both cases you end up doing a lot of navel gazing. Who am I? What's important in my life? How did I end up here?
Both require you to dig really deep. To find strength you didn't know you had. And to totally re-write the image you have in your head of your future, which inevitably leads to a grieving process.
And, after all of that, you end up a slightly different person - more battered, but wiser, calmer, more philosophical and, possibly, spiritual. You rediscover your appreciation of life, family and the things that matter.
There are, however, some key differences.
One of the main ones is other people.
When you're going through all this change, and angst, and physical and emotional battery as a result of cancer treatment, people fall over themselves to help you. It's almost too much.
Any time it gets on top of you, you're exhausted or just can't cope, all you have to do is raise a little finger and there's a stampede of people offering to collect your children from school or make you a casserole.
Plus, you can (as Mr SM called it) play the cancer card.
Regular readers will know that I played the cancer card to get off a parking ticket. And it was hugely helpful when I just didn't have the strength to do one of those additional jobs we mums get lumbered with constantly.
For example, I remember getting an e-mail just after my diagnosis asking if I could run one of the stalls at the school Christmas Fete (known in our family as the fete worse than death).
I sent an e-mail to the fete committee which went something like this:
As you know, I am usually very happy to help with school events, however in this instance I'm afraid I have to say 'no'.
I have breast cancer, so am rather busy. Sure you understand.
Good luck with the fete! I'll send Mr SM and the smalls along to buy lots more plastic tat for the playroom.
P.S. Isn't that just the Best Excuse Ever?
The problem with giving up drinking is that, as so many of us do it secretly, we don't get to play the sober card.
You can't say sorry, I'm not hosting the class party/having your children for a sleepover/taking on more responsibility and stress at work, because right now I need some space to concentrate on not drinking.
No-one's rallying around to help with the kids and cook your family meals so that you can go to bed early with a copy of Jason Vale.
So, here's my plea to you: Let yourself off.
If no-one's rallying around to help you, you need to help yourself.
Treat the early days of quitting like having an illness (which it is).
Give yourself a reasonable time to recover (100 days?), and in that time let yourself off anything which is too hard, and which'll make you want to reach for the booze.
For me it meant not cooking evening meals for a while. Instead I'd eat fish fingers with the children early and leave Mr SM to forage in the fridge. That gave me space at wine o'clock to go for a run, or have a hot bath, or read the sober blogs.
If (and I'm thinking of you, Annie), you find getting through the first five days really tough, then pretend you have 'flu. Go to bed with lots of chocolate, the laptop and some good books, and don't come out until you're strong enough.
Here's a secret: The world will not fall apart.
You are making a huge investment in your future health and happiness, and that of your family, so a few weeks of dropping balls and not living up to your usual standards is well worth it.
Don't take on any voluntary jobs. Don't feel obliged to turn up to any social events unless you really want to. Don't see anyone who stresses you out. There's plenty of time for all of that later.
Be your own support group.
(And we're all here to support you too. Although I'm afraid the service doesn't stretch to delivering casseroles).
Love SM x