Sunday, 3 April 2016

False Memory

Memory is a funny thing. It plays tricks on us.

Sometimes this is for a good reason. For example, I realised recently that I have little memory of whole chunks of time last October/November.

I think I have mild post traumatic stress from the whole cancer thing, and my mind has just blanked it all out.

This became apparent because of #1's teeth.

Last October half term, I'd booked her in to see an orthodontist. It so happened that the appointment fell right in the middle of all my scans and biopsies.

We went along and discussed her teeth at some length (and cost). I was given detailed instructions on next steps, including going somewhere to get some crucial x-rays done.

But I can't remember any of it. #1 says I wrote it all down, but God knows where.

I'm too embarrassed to go back and do the same appointment all over again, plus it'll just bring back all those bad memories that my brain has obviously decided to delete for good reason, so we're going to another orthodontist next week.

Last night I was watching Peter Pan with the children, and I had this vague memory of writing something about him. Sure enough, I found this (rather good) post from November about growing up (click here) which I had no memory of writing.

I re-read all my posts from that period, and a whole bunch of them might just of well have been written by someone else.

The reason this is relevant is that false memory can completely scupper the newly sober person.

The problem with not hitting a 'rock bottom' (which no-one wants to get to, obvs) is that once you've been sober for a good long stretch, it's really easy to forget how bad it was.

This caused me some problems last week.

A friend of mine was talking about my not drinking, which she feels (as do most of my friends) is a bit extreme. She said "it's not as if you were an alcoholic. I mean, we all drink too much, but we don't need to give up altogether."

You know what happens next, don't you? Here's how I start thinking:

She's right! I'm NOT an alcoholic. EVERYONE drinks too much. Yes, it all got a bit out of control, drinking most of a bottle most nights of the week, but it's not as if my family suffered. No one ASKED me to quit. I never blacked out/fell over/threw up. I could have a drink or two once in a while....

Luckily, I decided to go back and read 'Secret Drinker Hits the High Bottom,' just to remind myself how 'moderate' my drinking really was (click here).

And there was this terrible lush confessing to drinking one and a half bottles of wine a day. And to fibbing. And to (once) drinking in the morning.

I was horrified. Was that really me?

So, listen up, because this is really important.

Write it down. All of it. Now. Before you forget.

Because one day you'll convince yourself that you weren't that bad really. And you're going to need that piece of paper, or that blog post, to remind yourself that you really were. You really, really were.

Never forget.

Love SM x


  1. I think that's partly why I'm blogging: to have a record of the dark drinking days, and the seemingly endless early I won't forget. Annie x

    1. It's a great bonus of blogging. In rehab they recommend 'journaling' for the same reason. Good luck with day 2 Annie! Xx

  2. Amen. I'm exactly at that point where I consider having just one. I should go back and read my posts on soberistas.

    1. Do re-read Ulla! You can't go back there!

  3. If I remember correctly Lucy Rocca from Soberista quotes Billy Connelly talking about drinking and he says when you relapse back to drinking you do not go back to where you were when you stopped but to where you would be if you hadn't. So if you were at a bottle and half when you quit you may start back at two. I know for me my drinking became way worse when I relapsed and as I said before I cannot seem to get back to sobriety. You will never manage to moderate EVER. It's just a fantasy. Don't be fooled.

    1. Lovely Billy. A great cautionary tale x

    2. THAT is terrifying and I'm going to save that for when I have doubts! Haven't heard that before but I just know it would be so true for me. (Just like after pregnancies!)

  4. A very timely post for me. I don't like to write anything down because I'm afraid someone will read it and use it against me. I shall keep this blog at the ready when "moderation mayhem" rears its ugly head.
    Day 2 for me. I got through day 1 by reading about staying sober and having a plan to combat wine o'clock.
    Thank you SM for helping me devise a plan: walk, delicious dinner, milkshake, early bedtime.
    What I like best is remembering conversations with my husband and how I got to bed.
    Thank you everyone. I'm feeling the support.

    1. Well done you! If you can do Day 1, you can do Day 2. Just one day at a time.... Xxx

    2. I lay in my bed last night and hoped you were managing to stay stober Kburke. This is my first post; I'm just reading and observing although I am on Day 23. So far so good! Feel so much better and I am sending big hugs and all my support to you. This is a great blog and I look forward to it every day SM! Love to you both and all the other commentators. X

    3. Welcome walkingonsunshine! Great name! Huge congrats on 23 days. Awesome. Hoping you're on Day 3 Kburke xxx

  5. It really frightens me to think about going back but I equally cannot yet describe myself as an ex drinker, despite having just ordered £60 worth fruit fizz from Heron Valley. Its day 92 for me but I know I walk a knife's edge. I have to meet up with my brother in the next couple of weeks, usually it would be a lengthy evening, dinner, bars etc so its going to be a shock when I turn up with the car and have to explain this isn't just an aberration or I forgot sober January finished 2 moths ago. The one day at a time stuff works, at least for me and the days are racking up. Got to deal with the chocolate thing next or I'll be a diabetic ex-alcoholic. Time to put my chimp back in its box.


  6. Funny, I had the exactly same conversation with my friend. He also told me I am not an alcoholic and I am taking everything to extreme. And I kept on drinking because I felt that I have a permission to drink. But then I asked myself what I want to do and why and it all became clear. I want to quit for myself. I want to be extreme, damn it.
    Thank you for recommending Vale's book. Huge help!

  7. It's funny how you forget isn't it?! Writing everything down is a good idea. I've had a few drinking thoughts recently so I've been reading some of my old posts and it helps. And I haven't even written about the worst times! Maybe I should? A x

  8. I have the worst times written down. I don't focus on it anymore, but I know where it is if I need to remember.
    I did often refer to it daily when I was first trying to stop.