This feels like a huge number.
The party girl that never went home, the girl with the piss stain on her cargo pants and the Sangria flavoured vomit on her cardigan, hasn’t had a drink for over 1000 days.
If anyone had told me 1001 days ago that this was a possibility for me, I wouldn’t have believed them. My preoccupation with getting hammered was all encompassing. I could never have imagined a life without drinking.
Yet, here I am.
After therapy my origanal goal (otherwise known as a deluded dream) was that I could become a moderator. Someone in control. That person that said,
‘I’m only staying out for one’
So, for a while I tried that out, I kidded myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic, I just needed to do better. Be a better binge drinker.
But there was too much confusion involved with just having one.
What if I feel like two?
And then what if that second one goes down well?
What if it's Christmas, or New year, or Eurovision!?
Well, I know what, I was very predictable,
The shots were in and before anyone could say Sambuka! I was rolling around on a dancefloor with my Marks and Spencers Granny pants on display to some poor unexpected revellers. Then a hangover from hell soaked up by a fry up and hair of the dog. aaaaaand repeat!
But, truthfully, it wasn’t my drunken exploits that broke me, it wasn’t my cheeky behaviour or bad dancing, slurring or grinding against inanimate objects that got me questioning.
It was the sound of my children playing in the room beyond my hangover.
That noise made me look. It got my attention like the bang of a car exhaust. It made me turn around,
and now, well here I am, sat at my computer with my children next to me quietly dropping tiny bits of play-dough all over the floor, on my daughter’s 5th birthday, as I look at them I realise.........
it wasn’t them that broke me, booze did.... my children made me.
they fucking well saved me.
Those little bundles of love forced me to look I the mirror and question who I was.
Their existence meant I had to look deeper than the beer and bravado. I had to peel off a layer of drunken disillusionment and take a look underneath, under my skin and bones and really look into my heart to understand what this past 26 years, this chaos ...was all about.
This length of sobriety offers insight. You get to know our self before all this began. You get to like yourself and grow. I was stunted, held back by booze. I realise now that a lot of my behaviours were that of a child, a lost little girl still trying to impress her peers. Stepping outside of her allows me to age, gracefully, rather than by showing my pants to strangers in order to have a funny story at the pub over a Yorkshire Pudding and a bloody Mary.
But, it also takes work, this path is not all rainbows and Kombucha. Being sober is hard. It’s a daily choice that takes work and strong conviction. You have to really want it and put in the mileage. Sobriety is a constant for me, something I have to think about all of the time, because I want to succeed, and I don’t want to go backwards. Therefore, I’m forced to remember, think about the times I missed out on going to the park with the children, the time I woke up with one less finger (firework incident) and the time I woke up with a man I didn’t know in my kitchen making toast. I have to be consistent in reminding myself why I am doing this.
I hope I will get to a point where my struggles and self-reflection will fade into my past and my choice to quit alcohol will become just a moment in time or a ‘healthy decision I made in my 40’s. But for now it’s still very present and rather complicated, a daily navigation that needs attention and a strong mind.
And I’m ok with that. Whatever I’m doing is working. For now.
Writing has been my therapy and getting my feelings onto this computer is like putting all of my life in order. Words have pushed me forward and given me an understanding of what it is to be a sober curious woman.
Being 1000 days means so much. It means I’ve changed and my preoccupation with alcohol has practically vanished. Gone, like the 6 pack of beer that used to reside in the veggie compartment of my fridge.
For 26 years my attention had been diverted. Nothing mattered more than the party, but now I don’t care about those things. My preoccupation has had a big slap in the face by this sober soda water warrior,
‘Stop trying to squeeze the answer for everything out of a glass of wine you idiot!’ I shout at her!
‘drinking will only bring you doubt and a nasty rash on your lady garden!’
But the old me would have never listened. Too busy talking, flirting and stealing pints.
How things can change!
I’ve changed from believing wine was the answer to boredom, to sadness, to joy and to anxiety.
I know now, wine was never the answer, sobriety was.
I can’t believe I allowed myself to be so drawn into the fallacy that wine solved all of my problems. What a joke! The only problems I have ever had were caused by alcohol. Every single one!
But, that’s what years of brainwashing will do – get you to believe the lie and follow the crowd.
I focused on alcohol like it was a cult leader, a charismatic trailblazer that could lead me out of turmoil, it preyed on me, scooped me up into its warm, strong arms when I needed it, stroked my forehead when I was weak, then passed me the bottle opener.
‘Here, this will make you feel better, and if it doesn’t make you feel better it will make you feel nothing at all. It’s a win/win Vicky. No more feeling. No more worrying. No more trying to fit in. Just sit back and take a drink. I’m here for you, now pass me your bank card!’
I was in so deep, secure in the arms of alcohol. Happy in that fuzzy comfort zone, with my sick bag, cult leader, and large Prosecco.
For a while anyway.
But there’s only so long pouring a toxic substance down your throat can work. In the end it was just my nose poking out of the water trying to get some air into my lungs. I was drowning in panic and cheap sparkling wine every weekend... sinking into fear. My body began to scream from the inside out. The hangovers were calling me, asking me to stop. My safety in jeopardy as I was pulled under.
Luckily, I found something beyond alcohol that made me feel safe. My family.
They were the ones that dragged me to shore as I gasped for breath. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of them. My husband has been quietly standing in the sidelines as I began to walk this bumpy road. He never judged and always listened. He steadied me when I wobbled and walked beside me as I slowed to a content pace. He took the children out for Pizza when I needed space and he held my hand when I told him I needed help. Without him I'd still be hiding in my bedroom full of guilt and shame.
I'm so happy for be free from that head space, that darkened corner of my mind where the monsters lurked. But I do still have a long way to go and socially being sober can be a pain in the arse, but going against the grain suits me, I'm happy stood at the bar with my lemonade being the odd one out. I’m like a trout swimming up river, pushing against the ebb and flow of the rapids. Finding my way to calmer water.
It is still hard to imagine a whole life ahead of me without having a drink,
(Crazy I know, but that need takes a long time to go away, all I will say is the cravings are more fleeting than they were) So all I can do is choose not have one today. Then I will think about tomorrow, tomorrow.
For today... I’m celebrating.
1000 days of being me.
A more content person that goes to bed early.
I’m celebrating how far I’ve come and being grateful for all I have to look forward to.
My husband, John, will be getting a huge wet sloppy kiss on his giant forehead (fivehead) later for just being cool, never making this into more than it was and never questioning my choices.
I’m not preoccupied with booze anymore. I’m no longer looking over my shoulder wondering where the next drink is coming from. I no longer miss conversations with friends because I’m worried about how full my wine glass is. I’m not thinking about alcohol being the answer to everything and I’m not passing any time with my head deep inside a pub toilet. I’ve got healthier options to explore.
and I’m preoccupied with life.
Cheers!..... to another 1000 days.
If you are questioning your relationship with alcohol, please join The Sober Social for Sober Curious women (https://www.facebook.com/groups/913823235768685) or follow me on Instagram @drunkmummysobermummy www.drunkmummysobermumm.com
pic - me with a smug sober face (wondering if it would be ok to have 'just one!')