Saturday, 24 February 2018
As IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on birthdays past (drunk) and present (sober)...
In the last of the drinking years, I'd begun to greet birthdays with a mixture of excitement and dread.
I'd be excited because a birthday is one of the only days of the year when you can properly let your hair down without any guilt or remorse. On a birthday, anything goes, and you have to be forgiven any bad behaviour, right?
But I'd dread birthdays too. Another year gone of nothing much changing and nothing much happening. More broken promises and unfulfilled dreams.
And I knew that it was likely to spin out of control. Which it inevitably did...
I would wake up on my birthday morning, and have to cope with three very excited children with a hangover. Because the night before had been the eve of my birthday! A great excuse to indulge a little more than normal.
And a little more than normal was an awful lot!
Then, because of said hangover, and said birthday, I would - obviously - have a long, boozy lunch.
By the time the evening celebrations rolled around, I'd already have drunk a bottle of wine, and would be well into the second, which meant that half way through the party/dinner/whatever I was up to, I'd be slurring, forgetful, confused and sleepy, and a terrible host.
I'd collapse into bed (possibly before the last guests had left), and then wake up with the 3am horrors, trying to remember which secrets I'd spilled and who I might have upset.
The next day would be ghastly.
The morning after my birthday party three years ago was the day I quit drink for good, and you can read about how awful it was on page one of The Sober Diaries.
(If you click here, you can read the first few chapters for free with the 'Look Inside' feature).
My first sober birthday, nearly a year later, was a little bit hard. It's difficult not to remember, with rose՛tinted glasses, the ghosts of birthdays past, and to feel a little nostalgic....
....but since then, sober birthdays have been AMAZING.
This morning, I woke up feeling perky, but pretended to be asleep as I could hear the pattering of tiny feet and whispering outside the bedroom door.
I could be genuinely excited as three children and the terrier all piled into our ancient, creaking bed, and Mr SM produced bacon, eggs, coffee and presents on a tray.
I realise now that birthdays are as much about the children as they are about me, and today I can spend the whole day on the same level as them, not looking for ways to escape with a glass of vino.
Kit's birthday present to me is having his hair cut.
He's been resisting this for weeks, and his hair has got so long that he can barely see. As I type this, he's in the barber with his dad, and I'm looking forward to receiving his three inch long sideburns tied in a ribbon... It may be another year before I can get him in there again, so I'm going to make the most of it.
This evening, after birthday tea with the kids, Mr SM and I are going out for dinner and to the theatre in the West End.
It's going to be brilliant, and I won't wake up part way through the play to find that I've fallen asleep on the stranger next to me and am drooling on his shoulder (this did happen once, back in the day).
And I can spend the evening reflecting on a year when I did stuff. Stuff that mattered.
I faced my fears and exposed all my secrets and vulnerabilities to the world, then discovered that my story was changing people's lives, which is the best birthday present ever.
And I'll fall asleep, tired, happy and sober.
Happy birthday to me, and love to all of you.