Tag Archives: friendship

Laverne of the Thousand Days

Today is now Tuesday 27th December and marks the 1,000th day anniversary of my stopping drinking alcohol. I had my last shot of vodka at 23.59 on Wednesday 31st March 2014. It hardly seems real. In so many ways it was quite straightforward. It was just something I didn’t do anymore and that was the end of it. I made it public to my friends and anyone who read this and then that way I couldn’t take it back. It aided my incentive to stay stopped. I knew it was the right thing to do. When I was totally honest with myself my drinking habits were toxic and were only going to get worse unless I did something about it before my body became physically dependent. Psychologically I was well and truly dependant and that was what I needed to work on. Latterly when I woke it was the first thing I thought about. My first decision of the day was – ‘ Shall I drink today or not?’
Writing helped enormously as did being honest with family and friends. My parents probably in denial of their daughters drinking and in many ways my mum encouraged it at certain times but my continuing honesty with them has forced them to hear my truth. Slowly but surely they are understanding. Slowly but surely so am I. Trouble was as I revealed in my last post alcohol was only one symptom of the bigger problem. All the blog posts in the world with their profound learnings about myself would amount to nothing if I continued to misuse another substance. That substance being codeine. Now that was not only psychological but physical in my dependency of it. Every time I had tried to stop my 320mg per day I had felt awful. Shivering, upset stomach, headaches, restless legs, insomnia, skin crawling, muscular aching, irritability and depression. If in the last years whilst still drinking I had managed to go cold turkey and get through it I had had alcohol to take the edge off. Certainly that helped with the physical withdrawals but psychologically I was not working through anything. To think I was drinking and taking that sometimes too makes me feel ill at the thought now but then I was very unhappy and trying to find coping strategies just to get through day to day. I was in total denial with the idea that I could just stop it when I wanted and all would be fine. After all the doctor was prescribing them for me so they must be OK? 
What I chose to ignore and justified as necessary was watching my Mum and Dad leave their house to go shopping and my letting myself in and stealing them from the medicine cabinet as the doctor had reduced my prescription and I wouldn’t  have had enough to keep the horrible feeling from coming back. Also ignoring the series of pharmacies in a rotation I had set up that I would go to in order to purchase as strong codeine as I could over the counter to top up with my prescribed ones just to try and make them last me till the next prescription. The sense of relief when I did get them or the sense of panic and fear if I couldn’t. Who was I trying to kid? I was addicted and only I could stop it. It terrified me. Not the stopping because I had reached the point where I truly wanted to but the fear of me. The fear of being exposed. Just me! Nothing to hide behind. Just me! No tricks or confidence boosters. Just me! No trying to get the party higher. Just me!  No drowning my sorrows in a substance. Just me! No trying to feel something more than the emotional flatline. Just me! Just me!  It terrified me. I had never really been just me since I was 15. In all honesty I wasn’t sure I knew how to be just me or who that me was in adulthood. 
That is when I reached out and came clean – so to speak. I confessed to the GP, my family and closest friends. Each and every one were unbelievably supportive and my GP guided me through a reduction plan but very clear that it needed to be at my own pace. It didn’t matter how long it would take it was the being ready to stop and staying stopped that were important. She also recommended that I get some counselling to help support me emotionally through it. She gave me a card of an organisation so I called them and made an appointment. What then happened was meeting and becoming part of a group of people that allowed me to be brutally honest and helped with my understanding of what made me tick. Sitting in a room with people I never thought I’d ever pass the time of day with and I’m sure they thought the same of me was a total leveller because regardless of background, gender, sexuality, class, race or age we had all one thing in common. Addictive behaviour resulting in bad choices. 
Since owning my substance misuse in October 2015 I have been slowly but surely reducing my 320mg to a nominal 30mg per day. In the last 28 days I have had only 14 tablets meaning 14 days when I have had none. That is an incredible achievement for me but does make me realise one thing. I am as ready now to fully stop as any other time in the future. I no longer have a physical dependency and what is left is the psychological hold. The story I am telling myself. The final letting go. The just me. I keep holding on setting dates in my head of when will be my last day with codeine. Worried if I slip back into bad habits again. A trip to the chemist or a hand in my mums tablets? What if I end up turning to something else ? What if what if what if ? But what if I don’t? That’s what all the recovery work is for to help you stay focussed and keep on the clean path. I don’t walk into Tesco’s anymore and feel panicked when I’m near the wine aisle or think ‘that’s it I’m heading out to get a bottle of vodka!’ No, it’s something I just don’t do anymore. 
I remember when I moved down to London in September 1995. I was going to study acting at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A huge life changing time. I was 25 and had only ever lived at home with my parents and my Nana. Yes the Nana that I had shared a bedroom with since the I was 10! It was all planned out. My Dad was driving me down with my Mum travelling too. We would stop off in York to visit my Aunty Rita and break the journey up. We would then carry on to my cousin Alison (Aunty Rita’s daughter) in Romford where we would stay the night. The following day we were to drive into the City of London where Guildhall was so I could matriculate and move my luggage etc into the halls. We were then going to see my Uncle Clifton performing at the Players Theatre and afterwards travel to his house in Enfield and stay the last night there. The end of the plan was the following day being Sunday my Dad and Mum would drive me back to college where they would let me settle into the halls and then take their leave returning to Edinburgh. I would next see them at Christmas. It was a fairly big deal and although I was so bloody ready to live my own life or at least have my own room it was also incredibly emotional and all of us were just avoiding the inevitable. The saying goodbye. The letting go. 
As I sat in the theatre I had this gut instinct. What was the use of putting things off as long as possible? Sitting there in denial that any goodbye was to occur. Refusing to believe that there would be any tears or breakdowns of emotion or worse snot ridden wailing and hugging. No I needed to make the break now. Yes it was going to be sad, difficult and hurt even but it had to happen and by taking control of when it did happen I was being proactive, assertive, sensible and courageous. During the interval I turned to my Mum and said, ‘After this I want you to take me to the halls. I need to say goodbye tonight’. She was visibly shocked and upset as was my Dad but they agreed and understood and afterwards made the drive to the city to take me up to my room. The City of London on a Saturday night is eerily quiet. The City is alive Monday – Friday but apart from those attending the Barbican there is hardly a soul around. Even some of the pubs stay closed at the weekends because there is no trade. We got out of the car and we travelled up to my room. I can still see it. It wasn’t the halls I was meant to be in as the new super duper ones were yet to be finished so this was emergency halls for the first two weeks until the new ones were ready to open. This room was near the top of a high rise block and although had an amazing view over London inside it was dark, over heated and bleak. Vinyl flooring and a single bed that a size zero model would struggle for space in. The tiny sink was enclosed in a cupboard and the only plug socket was a two pin affair. Yet I knew I had to do it. I had to say goodbye now. I couldn’t prolong it. I felt it in my gut and I had to go with it. We cried, we hugged and yes there was a fair amount of snot but they left, they went back to Edinburgh the following day and luckily we are all still here to tell the tale. 
That is how I feel just now. I feel it in my gut that I have to just do it. I have to go with it. I have to be courageous and take the leap. I need to trust in all the work that I’ve done and continue to do so. I need to let go. I need to just be me. I can really feel what I felt like that night when I said goodbye to my parents and the door with its safety hinge closed on me inside that tiny soulless room. I can honestly say I felt true loneliness but I also felt alone for the first time and in that I felt empowered. The two are very different and after 25 years I realised this was the start of my life as I wanted it to be. I was alone but I was fully in control and I was in charge of the choices I made. That night as I looked out over London with it’s twinkling dancing lights I made the choice to stop feeling lonely. Being alone was good because that was a choice but I wasn’t going to choose to be lonely. Well right now I want to look out of that high rise window and see the lights. I may be alone but I’m not lonely. I am ready to take charge. I’m ready to take that last step. I’m ready to just be me.
 I had 14 tablets left. I don’t anymore. I washed them down that tiny sink and closed the cupboard door on it. I’m not looking inward. I’m standing looking out and the view is quite dazzling. 


1,000 days

1 day. 

Moving

  
As long as I can remember I have always felt compromised when it came to my own personal space. Growing up I never had a room of my own even though I was an only child. It wasn’t so much the sharing but who I was sharing with that was the issue. Countless people share with siblings but sharing with your parents because a lodger was in your room of bunking up with your Nana from the age of 10 – 25 ( 28 if we include holidays from London) is not ideal to say the least but it was the way it was. I got through it but not without squiring a few over night bags along the way. 

Total number of house moves till London = 9.

When I lived in London as independent as I now was I struggled to gain my own space. I spent most of the time sleeping, eating, socialising, working in my bedroom whether it be a shared flat, student accommodation or as a lodger. 

Total number of house moves in London = 4

When I returned to Edinburgh I was an engaged soon to be married. Sharing everything with another person; a person who couldn’t understand if I needed or wanted space. It was more viewed as a slight on him and quite often ended up in acrimony. It wasn’t going to end well really was it and it would be no surprise to say that it didn’t. 

Total number of house moveswhilst married  = 4

The best solution under the circumstances was for me to move out of the family home and set up a flat on my own with the children living with me for 4 days of the week. And that’s what happened. I could go into detail about how traumatic the three months leading up to me leaving were but that would have you all reaching for the bottle which would defeat the main purpose of my blog. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best time of my life or the kids but after what seemed like forever I secured a rented flat close to the kids school and my family. I’ll never forget the day I moved. Yes it was rented but it was mine. It was the first time I had been solely responsible for a living space on my own. My own kitchen, my own bathroom, my own lounge and my own bedroom. The first time I had my own bedroom that all I had to do was sleep and be with myself in. The kids had their room but I also had my own room. My own room! At 42 I had finally arrived. 

So after over three years of living in the flat the kids were reaching the time that they couldn’t share anymore. If they were same sex it might have been more manageable but being a boy and a girl it wasn’t working out. I looked online for other flats but they were so much more expensive or in areas that would have been 2 buses to school in the morning that it just wouldn’t have been possible or the right thing for anyone. I mulled it over then after one particularly difficult evening I decided it needed to change ASAP and the change meant only one thing. I needed to give up my bedroom. 

When the day arrived last week for me to start the changing of the rooms I felt overwhelmed with loss. It conjured up so many feelings in me. The sense of losing that room space had a profound effect on me filling me with anger, resentment, sadness and fear. I felt like I was 14 all over again. Fighting for privacy, feeling marginalised, alone in compromising. I didn’t like it and  on Mother’s Day after a difficult few hours with the kids at my parents they were picked up by their dad leaving me alone to walk home. As I started my journey home I felt overcome with emotion and for the first time in a very long time I had the desire to be drunk. I visualised a glass of red wine in my mind and I so wanted to taste it but more than anything I wanted the feeling it used to give me. That warm, fuzzy feeling and an instant shoulder relaxer but the visualisation didn’t stop there and very quickly the glass panned out to a bottle and then panned out to me – drunk. That’s what I wanted. Drunkeness. In an instant I wanted to be in a state which stopped me caring about what was about to happen. Them as quickly something else happened. After allowing myself to visualise what I desired at the moment I heard myself say inside my head,

‘Laverne, you don’t do that anymore.’

As quick as it had come it had gone. I had controlled my need to drink by telling myself I didn’t need to or want to and it had happened organically. Even though the remaining steps of that journey home were emotionally difficult and tears stained my face I never thought again about drinking. It was just something I didn’t do. End of. 
With one foot in front of the other I walked up the road, in my head I was walking a new neural pathway. I arrived home and with the help of a friend I gave up my bedroom and created a new lounge/ bedroom. Once finished I stood back and looked at the new flat interior. Yes it was different. Yes I was back to eating, socialising, relaxing and sleeping in the one room but my children had the space they needed and deserved. They can grow and develop themselves within their own space and learn how important it is to have that freedom. Something I wish I had had. 

A week has now passed since the big change and my thoughts and feeling too have changed. When the kids came back the joy on their faces when they saw their own rooms made everything that I was grieving for seem irrelevant. I’m not diminishing my own feelings as what I felt was very real and on reflection understandable but when I look at what I have I am blessed. Regardless of who sleeps where it is my own front door, it is my own place with many rooms, it is my own bed, it is my own life. These are my children. They come from me and will be with me; connected always. I have changed my thoughts, feelings and actions regarding alcohol. I can change my thoughts, feelings and actions about anything. 

Number of house moves as a liberated me = 1 

Whatever the size, wherever the place I possess the most important aspect of living. My freedom. With that I can change anything. That is all the riches I need. 

Nighty night x

Ps 715 days 





The earlies, the mid’s and the late’s. 

Just 6 sleeps now till I reach my last mid 40’s year. If I say it quick enough it doesn’t really register but the simple fact is I will be turning 46. I’ve always been able to deal with new decades filled by the subsequent earlies and mid’s but there’s something about the late’s that I don’t like. I suppose it focusses on the end of something and the fear of the unknown next phase of your life. By that point I will have had 3 years to fret, pre empty and write some convoluted horror story in my head but the reality of the new decade is actuslly accompanied with a sigh of relief and I generally embrace of the new phase. The earlies are just 3 years that feel very much like the decade’s start and the mid’s are just settling into the new maturer me but the late’s well that’s the saying goodbye to years that I’ve lived too fast without stopping to take air and be present. I suppose getting another year older carries the same question that I have with New Year in that do you really begin something new or does your life carry on but with the time labels that are periodically stamped on it? I mean when I reach 46 does that mean that the next 366 days are a chance to make positive change, nurture the things I love or make resolutions? I don’t think so. I think we all fall into the trap of compartmentalising our lives into periods, labelling them and then looking at them with rose tinted nostalgia all too eager to wish we were 19, 25 or 34 again. In doing that we will only find it more difficult to enjoy the here and now.

 When I look at my late teens and 20’s a great deal of it was under the influence of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis. Yes I had a some great successes in those years but for a large part I was nursing a hangover, borrowing money off my Nana for fags or taking a whitey. This of course will not be unlike most young people of that age group and I had a jolly good time in the process but did I? I was talking about this with some friends recently. When I  look back at my younger self in particular my drinking younger self like many in Scotland, well the UK, there is the expectation that you go out to get drunk, bladdered, wasted. That’s the aim of the game. The following morning retracing your drunken or stoned steps with your pals trying to piece together the hazy and sometimes blank night before. Hysterical laughter, many stories and shared memories for sure however, too often time was lost through memory loss or sickness ensued due to too much drink. I have so many sick stories I could do a standup routine just on the subject. By and into my 30’s I had stopped smoking both weed and cigarettes respectively but still liked a drink. Oh I loved a drink! It just took a different turn. As unhappiness in my marriage crept in like a dementor alcohol helped to numb me in that unhappiness but with two pockets of light shining always in the shape of my children. Thank you universe for them.  In my teens and 20’s it was a social substance. I very rarely drank in the house unless I was going out. When I lived at home with my family the flat ( being so central) was usually a hub of friend activity. My pals were always popping in to visit but unless we were going out we never drank alcohol. We made coffee, tea and cheese on toast. Into my 30’s and 40’s drinking became much more of a home activity as going out was not something I did very much anymore. The social binging of my younger self had become something different. It wasn’t so much socially anymore but more a means to get through difficult emotional times or to give me courage sometimes in the most mundane and unremarkable of activities. I was slowly losing myself. My strength, self assureness, decision making, independence and ability to love was becoming underpinned by alcohol and I felt I needed it more and more to find these things. When you are told you will never manage, that you are a bad person and that you will never be happy just alone and miserable then no matter what defences you try to protect yourself with inside that self made fortress it is a murky emotional swamp and your confidence needs propping up all the time. I hadn’t realised what a set of under arm crutches my drinking had become. 

I can’t remember what was the actual trigger that made me want to stop only that I had enough self awareness and understanding to know that I was using alcohol in a negative way and if I didn’t address it things could and no doubt would escalate into something that would be more of a struggle than what I was facing at that moment. I didn’t physically need alcohol. I didn’t feel any physical difference when I didn’t drink but I thought about it every day. Making conscious decisions on waking that this would be a day that I wouldn’t drink but then as soon as I felt stress or even joy it was complimented with a bottle of wine, vodka or both.

I’m lucky I had the strength and courage to say ‘ for me this is enough’. I am not a bad person I am human and may have made some bad choices but this was one choice that was to empower me and liberate me from the shackles of a substance that was controlling a lot of my own self. In choosing to stop drinking I was choosing to find me. Who would that woman be? What would she be like free from control? Where could she go in life? I’m not sure I have the answers yet. Who knows what lies ahead? Whether it be the earlies, the mids or the lates it’s not about the destination; it’s about the getting there. So far the journey has been challenging but it is so full of life, love, compassion, laughter, forgiveness and kindness. 

These are true riches.
  
  
 

Happy Sunday xx 

Ps 675 days 

1,2,3 1,2,3

Out with the old…

  

So here we arrive at the end of another year. Hogmanay has always been a huge event in Scotland and certainly one in my family. When I was growing up we always had an open door party policy and would still have people in our flat till light was drawing in. I remember one year when I was about 23 a rather cute Aussie guy standing in our kitchen and someone asked him who was it he knew here he replied, ‘ No one. I was at the Tron and someone suggested this address if I wanted to go to a party’. We lived so centrally that it was about a fifteen minute walk from the Tron so a popular place for people to come to. My Mum always did a huge spread of food and there was every alcoholic beverage you could think of. Yes she catered for all tastes and heartily encouraged much drinking. There was music, sometimes romance ( well maybe an inebriated New Years snog with some equally  drunk person), party pieces where I was always encouraged to sing at every opportunity by Nana and my Dad but the one thing I really remember was the sound. It was so noisy with chatter and laughing – so much laughing. It was one of those nights that was well and truly a green light to getting totally shit faced. I lived for Hogmanay. In many ways the excitement for it outshone Christmas for me. It was always going to be the night of nights! 

Truth be known it never was any better than some of the other nights I had out at totally random times of the year. There was always a sense of anti climax after it. A realisation that all the stuff you promise to do once the clock strikes midnight that will change your life forever and make this next year truly fantastic is all wishful thinking.  Life doesn’t really fit into periods of twelve months and we can say well that’s that done now and the next twelve will be totally different. How does a happy New Year fit if a loved one dies at 11pm on December 31st, or your battling illness over months or years crossing over yearly timelines making it different to differentiate one year from the next. We have a tendency to look back at the negatives that happened in a year and maybe by trying to box it into this twelve month period it will somehow be gone on the stroke of midnight ready to start a fresh?

 For me truthfully it never really was. 

If I look at the last year it has been full of ups and downs with some significant downs I have to say. However, most of these were not just confined to 2015 and actually had been carried over from the previous year, years or decades in some cases. In some ways though it was during this twelve month stretch that some of these challenges peaked. There were some unwanted intrusions in my life by certain individuals who need to do a lot of work on themselves but sadly never will.  There was pain, anger, anxiety, worry, dissapointment, self loathing, feelings of failure and underachievement. In Spring someone took their leave from my life who had over the course of 18 months become a constant. That departure only clarified their meaning to me. That meaning will always remain special to me and held with much affection. On the back of that another person took their leave from me but for different reasons. Their proclaimed ‘disappointment’ on reflection only led me to realise that the only thing I would say to them now would be ‘Right back at ya!’ 

Yet without these downs, these lows, these emotional challenges I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t be looking inward to myself and learning to accept me and all that entails and by making sense of it in a totally sober world that what I give outwardly will be more honest, accepting, self assured and open. Too often I haven’t listened to how I am feeling  for fear of rejection but if you can’t hear what yourself is saying and respect that and give yourself  kindness then how do you expect to give it to others? Alongside the more challenging aspects there has been much wonderful joy. My constantly surprising relationship with my parents is one that is growing richer by the day. All I will say is thank you ❤️ My children make me feel blessed and full of love like no other way. Being a single parent has its obvious challenges but it also creates a unique bond and trust between us. The love they give is totally unconditional and the bond between us will never be broken. They have shown me how to love and how to love myself. Sometimes I look at them and they take my breath away. My life is immensely rich in true friendships something I cherish greatly. I have learnt so much from my very close friends and their understanding, lack of judgment, love and support is a life force to me. I love you all dearly. 

The older I get the more I am becoming comfortable with who I am and as the seasons come and go and life’s patchwork quilt grows and takes on an ever changing shape and scale I understand that each portion had its part to play in creating my journey to this point but people and human interaction are vital to that story too.  I cannot change what has been or predict what the future will be but I can be here and present in what is now, not just for 2016, or on the stroke of midnight but at anytime. My little girl said something today after we’d had a falling out. She said ‘Mummy, let’s start a fresh. We can choose to start anytime so let’s start now’. We are only where we are now. 

The previous years, the years to come? 

It’s now that you truly feel the sun. 

So stop and truly listen to yourself,

Inside you’ll find so much wealth.

Time arrives too soon and departs too fast,

Hold on to now before it becomes the past. 

So for the first time on Hogmanay I am sitting alone, writing this, with a cup of tea and you know what? I’m perfectly content. May the rest of your life from this moment on continue to challenge, inspire, cherish and surprise you. 

Nighty night xx

Ps 638 days 

My Delightful December: Day 1

So we reach the final month of the year and 8 months of alcohol abstinence for me. Now I am not a Christmas fan. In fact it would be safe to say I do not like it but as much as I would love to shut myself away from it all with two young children that is just not really possible. One thing I do historically associate the festive season with is alcohol and copious amounts of it. I mean how else do you get through it all if not in a drunken pickled stupor? This year is going to be a test of my resolve that’s for sure. I think I can honestly say that since 1986 this will have been the first year alcohol will have not passed my lips. 28 years! Now that’s scary!

It will mean though like with all things these last 8 months whatever happens I will need to deal with it as me. Not a numbed, false personality, deluded me but just me. Why does that seem to terrifying? Hang on – it actually might not be as terrifying as I think it possibly could be. My assumption is that is will be awful, a struggle, a turgid drawn out string of endless days with jack shit to do other than pickle myself in a drunken haze and eat my own body weight in lard but that could just be years of predictable cognitive behaviour and now that behaviour pattern has shifted considerably I might just find that I find enjoyment in other things. I might just have a Christmas epiphany like Scrooge and go running up and down the street crying, ‘ Merry Christmas one and all,’… Although that might be taking it too far. Maybe I am believing my own hype? Yes I am always bah humbug therefore I will be bah humbug. Sometimes you just need to make an effort to make a change. Maybe by doing it for someone else you find the joy in it? Sometimes I have been so wrapped up in my own Christmas woe that I forget my children have not had their festive cheer sullied yet. Oh give it time kids! See! Can’t stop the Christmas cynic in me.

I do think that I am realising that I am far stronger than I ever thought I could possibly be. Being clearer of head has helped me deal with life’s issues with more clarity. It has helped me to see what really matters. Who and what is important in my life. The positive influences I have on others and likewise them on me. That the love between my children and myself is a bond that nothing can break and our love makes me feel the most secure and loved in my life even when I am proverbially beating myself up about all thing things I wished I had done differently. I can see and hold onto the things I do well. The single best thing I can do in this life is ensure my children know that they are needed,respected and loved. They are all of those things to me. If they know and feel how much they are needed they will understand how important it is to give. If they know and feel they are respected they will have the capacity to respect others. If they know and feel unconditional love they will have an open heart ready to love.

Love and friendship should be joyful, rewarding, inspiring, comforting and life affirming. I am blessed that my life has an abundance of love and friendship but sometimes it can be difficult, painful and desperately disappointing. We learn from the good and bad in our lives but sometimes it’s hard to see the positive in the latter. Being sober allows me to see what are the kind of things I want and need in my life. Life is all too brief and what I choose to let into my life has a knock on effect to my children’s and in turn what I want them to learn about themselves . I can see clearer what is worth fighting for in my life but equally I can see what I need to let go of. Having the strength to say ‘ this is not a good thing in my life and I need to let it go’ is both empowering and healthy.

So maybe this December I will look back at both the good and bad of the year and give it the acknowledgement it deserves but in doing so be thankful for the wonderful positive people, achievements and events that I have been lucky enough to have fill my year but also to doff a cap to the difficult and negative ones but be thankful for possessing the fortitude to let them go.

Nighty night x

Ps 244 days

My Miraculous May: Day 7

One thing that makes me feel like reaching for the bottle is sitting in a doctors waiting room. The officious receptionists who make Attila the Hun look like a flopsy bunny, the coughing, the involuntary grunts and groans, the strange behaviour by some people that is nothing short of unsettling and the irritated ones, tapping their fingers, shaking their legs impatiently up and down and giving a long sigh every time they look at their watch. Oh yes if you don’t feel ill before you go you’ll most certainly feel it whilst your there. I have to say that I was an irritated , finger tapping, leg shaking sigher today as I was taken for my appointment one hour late. Grrr….

Anyway got to work eventually where over lunch a conversation about alcohol began. Well to be honest it was just between two of us but made me think. I mentioned to my work pal that I hadn’t had alcohol in over five weeks and that I was contemplating abstaining indefinitely. She admitted that she had toyed with the idea too but had decided to continue drinking to counteract the nonsense others talk or behave when they are drunk. She added that friends of hers had mentioned that she can be just as crazy sober on a night out so it did make her think that she could live without it. It got me thinking.

Again it seems to come back to this idea of needing alcohol to be more entertaining, funnier, better company or “crazy”. It seems it’s not just me that felt that was a reason. Is it subconsciously inbred in us to feel we need it to be better more popular people? To fit in? To be accepted by our peers? Certainly for women this is much more a recent concept. I would say that active social drinking for women developed post war and more during the 60’s and 70’s possibly with women’s liberation and equality. We too can match our men pint for pint. And why not of course. My mum and all her friends loved to go to the dancing but usually drank orange squash or coffee. Speaking as a teenager of the 80’s alcohol became the thing to do. It was seen as cool, daring( especially when underage) fun, socially accepting and grown up.

Now it seems that women or teenage girls are the biggest casualties of the binge drinking culture. Is it to prove equality? A misplaced self esteem boost? Immaturity? Low self worth? I think at some point I have fallen into all of those categories. But now I am beginning to see it all very differently. Hearing my friend define her alcohol use as a way to tolerate others when out made me look at my reasons for not drinking.

If I am in good company I shouldn’t have to tolerate people or others me. If that is the case then I would feel there were some fundamental issues within the friendships. If I am happy, self assured and content in myself then I shouldn’t need alcohol to boost the enjoyability factor. I felt I proved that on Sunday. It’s true that a sense of potential boredom runs through my mind at the thought of a night out without alcohol which when I say it seems nonsensical. Surely I go out to see, talk, eat, laugh or dance with other people not to get so steaming that I can’t remember most of it. Well that’s what I did so can’t speak for others.

When I think back to Sunday I felt so many positive feelings. Happiness, friendship, fun, empathy, confidence , self assuredness, control and acceptance of my drunk pals. I felt good and was certainly not bored. After all in my humble opinion there is nothing more boring than a really drunk person.

Nighty night x

Ps 37 days

My Miraculous May: Day 5

So today was a day filled with an AWOL Dad ( who had apparently done a sneaky on the bus up to the HMV to buy DVDs he’ll never watch), lunch with a friend, enormous cake consumption, line work, returning batteries, buying batteries ( if that sounds suspect that’s cause it is), hunting for a child’s birthday present, more line work, hoovering, washing and insertion of batteries. Phew!!!

But hey no hangover!

I was given two gifts from friend. The first a book about learning to forgive. I think will be an interesting and insightful read. Who knows it may lay some ghost to rest. Worth a go and I’m sure I will no doubt be writing about it soon enough. The second was a card. This card:

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I laughed when I saw it because it resonated with me a lot. How different the past 7 weeks or so ( and I refer to My Angelic April: Day 11 1980’s bullet point song list) could have been if I had been drinking. I actually shudder to think. That awful logic you get when you’ve have a drink or three; I know what would be really sensible right now- texting and saying blah de blah de blah!! A potentially terrible mistake on all counts particularly in this situation. So not drinking has saved me from upset because no matter how much you feel validated to relay certain things to some individuals it is a waste of time, energy and credit. They are just not worth the bother and being sober helped me keep clear, focused and allowed me to truly find how to be kind to myself.

Since not drinking I am finding out so much about myself, my reactions, responses and feelings. I am finding a new contentment within me. A new strength I never thought I had. I am finding happiness honestly and truly and not faked or forced by alcohol and it feels good. After all to be happy is the best “two fingers up” you can give.

Nighty night x

P.S Five weeks and counting