4 months! That's one third of a year!
By way of a celebration I am going to stop counting days. From now on I'm counting in months.
I re-read my post from exactly a month ago (imaginatively entitled 3 MONTHS SOBER!), and it struck me that things are still changing.
I'd imagined that when you give up drinking you'd go through a brief period of turmoil while you physically 'detoxed' (a few days? Maybe 3 weeks?), and then you'd be done. All you'd have to do then is to get used to the new you.
Not the case, as I'm sure most of you have discovered.
In fact, you go on changing in a myriad of small ways (that all add up to something monumental) over a period of....well at least four months. Who knows how much longer?
My current favourite analogy is that of a car engine (bear with me! I know nothing about mechanics so this is not going to get technical).
For twenty five years I have been filling my engine not with lovely, clear, clean engine oil, but with dark, sticky, toxic stuff.
If I'd only made this mistake once in a while my engine would have coped - it would have been able to clear the gunk in a day or two and got back to working order. But no. I poured the toxic oil in every single day.
Not only could my engine not run efficiently on this oil, but gradually the oil started to gunk up the whole system, making it run slower and slower, spluttering and backfiring, chugging painfully up the hills.
Because this happened relatively slowly, I hardly noticed it at first. And when I did see other cars charging past me as I hogged the slow lane, I assumed that it was just age. Poor old engine, not what it used to be....
Then, overnight, I stopped pouring the toxic oil in. I switched to the lovely, clear, clean engine oil (which had been available at the pump all along!).
It only took a few days for the new oil to flush the toxic stuff out of the system but the engine didn't immediately spring back into action.
Although the engine was clean, the individual parts were so used to being gunked up that they didn't initially know how to function. And even when the separate bits started working again, it took them a while to start working well together.
There were rocky moments where one part would spark into action, causing other bits to go into shock and seize up for a while. And, initially, when the car first started going really fast it was a bit of a shock. I'd grip the steering wheel with white knuckles, yelling "Slow the f**k down!"
But, four months down the line, the old engine is all shiny and clean and firing on all cylinders! And I'm getting used to driving the new super charged version. Still not entirely safe, but getting there.
That is what happened to me.
The first few weeks did make an immediate difference. I was less puffy, I had clearer skin, shiny hair. I was sleeping brilliantly. I was less toxic.
But the changes kept coming. Now my whole being feels different.
It's like everything is starting to work together better. My body tells me when it's tired, or hungry. I get cravings for food that I later discover contain nutrients I need (see my post on PAWS and vitamin B).
If I drink a bottle of cold water on a hot day I can feel my cells re-hydrate. And, most intense of all, I feel all my emotions (anxiety, anger, elation, boredom etc) and am learning how to deal with them.
Perhaps most people are this in tune with their bodies and minds all the time. Perhaps they take it for granted. Maybe it's only because I lost the ability for so long that I see it as so miraculous.
It struck me that the only other time in the last twenty years that I've felt like this was when I was pregnant with #1, #2 and #3. Back then I assumed that it was the miracle of pregnancy hormones.
Wow - I thought - thanks to all that oestrogen I have glowing skin, bouncy hair, I sleep like a log. Plus my body talks to me! I know what to eat and when to eat to keep my baby healthy. The downside was that my emotions - at least initially - were all over the place.
Now I wonder: how much was pregnancy, and how much was sobriety? Because the last few months have felt remarkably similar - just without the swollen ankles, heartburn, stretch marks and massively expanding belly.
I'm aware that if I warbled on like this to anyone who's never had an unhealthy relationship with the vino they'd think I had a screw loose, so I can only hope that you lot know what I mean....
Keep on motoring!
Love SM x