There is alcohol in my house. I repeat alcohol in my house. It was given to me (most generously) as a Christmas gift but I accepted it with a sense of ‘ what do I do with this? ‘. It struck me very clearly that I didn’t consider myself a drinker anymore. There was no secret desire to crack open the bottle and neck it or even just have a sniff of its bouquet just a calm placing it in the back of my wardrobe waiting for the opportunity to pass it on to someone else who might enjoy it. It gets easier and easier with every day but I don’t want to kid myself that that’s me “cured” from my problem drinking. It is still there it always will be the difference now is that I am in control. I had lunch today with a friend and we started to chat about it. I opened up about some of the habits I had got into. Having sneaky drinks in the toilets of theatres, cinemas, shops and even on occasion public toilets just to get the “feeling” before or during meeting people. Or maybe sloping off to the toilet with my secret hip flask stash or having a quick shot at the bar when getting a round in just because I needed to top up the high and as my life was lurching on the high required more and more topping. When I write these things I do feel a sense of shame, embarrassment and sadness that my relationship with alcohol was an abusive one. Like a lot of things you can bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. I am lucky that I buried my head for years but somehow managed to push it through the other side and face up to it. Facing up takes courage and it can be very difficult. Although I have wonderful people in my life that I can talk to and are eternally supportive there are always those few that you feel are not totally getting what you are dealing with or facing up to. Maybe that says more about them? Since I have stopped drinking I have become acutely aware of others referencing to alcohol in relation to many situations albeit jokingly but I can see myself in them. Maybe they are in control all I know is that I was kidding myself that I was and the truth was alcohol was in control of me.
So what helped me push through the other side? What was is it that gave me the strength and self belief to say ‘no more!’ ? How did I feel the love within me to stop myself becoming lost completely and to be kind to me and stop punishing myself with the prospect of a life of perpetual self destruction? Well when I examine who I am, what type of person I am I can see elements of my Dad’s nature certainly in sense of humour and stubbornness and I have my mums socialising ability ( and that’s all I might add) but there is a huge part of my character that as I get older I can see very clearly within me – Nana! Could the love/hate relationship I had with her possibly be that we were similar in many ways hence the clash? The elements of my Nana’s temperament I found unbearable and I hasten to add I do not possess were her boastfulness, vanity and acid tongue. She always hit below the belt and nothing was out of bounds. Cutting cruel comments was her weapon of choice. For most it would stop them dead in their tracks and they would slope of wounded and never dare to challenge her again. Others would ingratiate themselves every time they saw her. She loved nothing more that sycophantic lording up of herself and would judge the persons worth on how much they fawned over her. Then there was me. I spent all of my formative years and beyond on the other end of her tongue but did none of the former. I stood up to her. I gave as good as I got but never swung that low blow because something inside stopped me. Maybe it was respect, fear or even love but what I realised was that none of those things stopped her. Yes I felt real visceral anger and still can do in many ways but I am happy that I did stop myself because if I hadn’t and just called her all the things that I swallowed back and went off to kick my wardrobe, punch my pillow from the hurt and frustration I felt only to feel like the worst person alive for feeling such negative things I managed to retain strength of character and empathy. Sometimes it is easy for me to look at things I don’t like so much about myself and identify the root problem and feel negative but you can’t change others only yourself. My Nana was never for changing a bit like Margaret Thatcher this lady was also not for turning but I see that as a missed opportunity in life not to grow, develop, find a different path. Showing vulnerability is not weakness. Admitting you are wrong is not weakness. Saying sorry is not weakness. To me these are all strengths and therefore I am strong.
Today the 19th December is the 5th anniversary of my Nana’s death. She would have been 105. Whatever the story between my Nana and me what happened has made me the person I am today but unlike my Nana I see myself as a constantly evolving creature trying to make sense of it all but holding on to my inner strength. That same strength that kept me in one piece in my teens and into adulthood. I am resilient because I have had to be and that resilience, fortitude and eternal hope is what has propelled me through the last 9 months and continues to move me forward strong with honesty, self awareness and love.
So thank you Nana. Without the knocks I might never have known how to fight.
Nighty night x
Ps 263 days