Ikea ghosts, poo rivers and ‘keeping my shit together’

coddiwompleI should really be writing 4 separate posts but the new 2019 me is all about maximum efficiency so here goes.

I feel a bit like Bridget Jones because looking back I do start off most of my writing with a report on the fag and sugar front and it’s not entirely lost on me that I am failing miserably at stopping both. I am of course still smoking like a trooper and have ballooned in size due to all the festive gorging. One does not need to eat 3 mince pies for breakfast.

We have officially moved to the coast.  Something I never thought I would say!? Mr Hurrah has wanted to live near the sea since he was little but I always just thought that it was just a pipe dream.

The move was fuck fuck fuckity fucking stressful. I got rid of half of my belongings; it was necessary as the house is slightly smaller than we are used to. Making a million micro decisions ever day is very tiring. I threw away (ahem… recycled) a mountain of kiddie artwork, clothes and random clay things that says mum on them. I am not a hoarder as such however I do have an immense emotional connection to some things. Especially it seems, stuff from when my kids were small. It brought back so many memories some good but some of my relapse periods and it was really hard to hold myself together through it.

The day of the move the moving truck couldn’t fit everything in which was great! I realise that sarcasm is considered the lowest form of wit, yet it comes so naturally to me why fight it? We moved what would fit in the truck and arrived exhausted that afternoon with kids moaning and crying they wanted to go back home. Sorry kids, this IS home.

Moving into a new house is a bit like a cat having to use another cat’s litter box. It’s very weird, primal familiarity of another creature’s intimate abode. I had it cleaned before we moved in but you could still smell other people’s smells or maybe that was all in my head? Anyway I plucked out my trusty Nag Champa Incense and just burned those babies continually until the house started to smell of us.

I took the kids upstairs to get their beds ready and then we heard a great banging noise coming from downstairs accompanied by Mr Hurrah’s grunty sounds he makes when he’s doing something strenuous. I rushed downstairs only to see a scene reminiscent of the Jack Nicholson ‘here’s Johnny’ scene in the Shining. Mr Hurrah was wielding a hammer with a crazed look in his eyes going ape shit at the electric fireplace. You see, the fireplace was in a very awkward spot and we simply could not fit our L shaped Ikea couch in there. He was going berserk at it muttering ‘fucking glorified heater’ to himself over and over again.

Thankfully he managed to dislodge the mantle and fireplace without leaving a massive hole on the side of the house so that was a relief. The stress levels were still high because at this point we could not make the covers fit the couch as we built the L the other way around. Mr Hurrah and I were taking turns wearing the couch covers over our heads like angry Ikea ghosts the other directing and stretching the ends. After what seemed like eternity it came to me that we may need new covers and I was right. That god for small mercies I say.

After all of that I just wanted to take a long shower only to discover that the water was set to boiling so burned the living shit out of me and also that the shower door would not close unless you held it closed with your one hand. I forgot to warn Mr Hurrah so as I was drifting off I just heard the screams of pain and expletives that followed through a haze of tiredness.

The following couple of weeks we managed to unpack and sort out the shower but then I had to prepare for the in laws who were coming to stay for Christmas. As usual all of the organised women of England had booked up all the delivery slots for December so I had to brave the shops to purchase the obligatory Christmas lunch things. I thought I would be super clever and go at 6:30 in the morning naively thinking that the Marks and Spencer’s would be empty. When I arrived it was full of Christmas shoppers who all had the same not so brilliant idea.

I am always amazed at how manic people get around the festive period and they were loading their trolleys as if the food was going to run out. Bumping elbows to get the last Christmas pudding and trolleys were loaded with enough alcohol to kill a small village.

The day before Christmas we decided to get a puppy. I know…rookie mistake. We promised the kids a dog but I was quite apprehensive about the timing as we had guests. We bought a beautiful Cocker Spaniel boy and brought him home on the 24th.

The previous owners we a bit dodgy to say the least so they didn’t give us any puppy food and we didn’t know to ask. When you change a puppy’s diet so suddenly their tummies get very upset so I was dealing with rivers of poo, fleas and worms as well as trying to have a Merry fucking Christmas.

I am pleased to report that Charlie is now flea and worm free and also his poos are more towards to mousse consistency not that you need that level of detail.

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, we’ve not had a holiday in a year and this December was anything but restful. I had a couple of fleeting alcohol thought and one short fuckit moment where I almost wanted to go into a pub. I think its ok…I didn’t and honestly I don’t want to drink. I’m just tired and need to recharge that’s all.

The kids are totally in love with Charlie and I have a feeling its totally going to be worth it but at this point I think I’ve gotten myself a new baby and I did not like the baby phase with my human children. He is very cute which of course is his saving grace.

My word for the year is going to be ‘keeping my shit together’

Every year I choose these lofty words and I never really seem to stay on course with it so I think ‘keeping my shit together’ is probably also not realistic but seems more achievable than something grander.

Overall I’m in a good place. My life is very full and I am stretched thin but I am so incredibly lucky to have an amazing family, friends and a gorgeous doggie to boot. I am so grateful to be sober through it all and just thank my lucky stars I get to experience this life in all its glory the agony and ecstasy

May you all Coddiwomple with glee into the new year and fill it with lots of new adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

Burn the bridges

bridges

January is a bit of a shit month when you live in England. The softly twinkly Christmas lights and roaring fires have been replaced with cold dark days and broken resolutions.

We spent December in Africa with my family and we had an absolutely glorious time.

Flying with young children as opposed to toddlers/babies is just a dream. They had their own seats, they watched movies and loved the aeroplane food. Contrast this to a flight we were on a couple of years back where my son projectile vomited over me just as we took off. Yes I have another vomit story in my already full arsenal of vomit stories.

I could see he was going to throw up and I had no choice but to turn him towards me and ‘take one for the team’ as it were. I couldn’t very well let him vomit all over the passenger in front of us. Of course like a good perfectionist I took two changes of clothes for the kids but neglected to bring a change of clothes for myself so I spent the entire flight drenched in a sour vomit smell whilst trying to calm down a feverish/ vomity baby.

This time my son seemed to be totally obsessed with the safety instruction pamphlet. He re-read it several times and kept on practicing the brace position and checking for the oxygen masks. I’m not convinced that he completely understood what it all meant; I mean he wasn’t so much worried about a plane crash as much as he loves gadgets and things to play with.

When we arrived it felt like I never left and at the same time felt like I had been away forever. It’s seemed surreal, as South Africa is so remarkably different to England; it’s almost like another planet! I’d been away for two years which is simply too long for me.

My mum had a hard year and had several issues with her health so the reunion was bittersweet. The last trip to South Africa is when I realised that my body wasn’t cooperating anymore and I had terrible shakes every morning. This time I was sober so I feel so incredibly privileged to have been totally conscious and awake for each precious second I could spend with her.

My old friends from school came over one Sunday for a braai. A braai is not a just barbeque. A braai is an occasion, it’s a verb in its own right and it’s a way of life in South Africa. I was very anxious to see my friends, as these are the friends I used to drink with. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I didn’t really know what I was going to tell them.

They asked me why I got sober (again) as you may be aware I’ve done this many times before so should be a dab hand at it. I told them the story and they laughed. This is the kind of situation where only a very old friend can get away with laughing at your darkest story. After that was out of the way they said they always knew I had the alcoholic gene and we left it at that. I was happy to leave it there and didn’t feel the need to argue the ‘alcoholic gene’ point.

After the heavy stuff was out of the way we had so much fun! We reminisced, told stories, and laughed till we cried. I drank my non-alcoholic beer which really helped in that particular situation. I feel that there is a time and a place for the non-alcoholic beverage. At home I don’t need it but in the company of old drinking friends I did, it really helped me feel less conspicuous.

The rest of the holiday I spent my evenings knitting and drinking chai tea with my mum. Although I’m not attending AA meetings I have been working through the steps and the 9th step is making direct amend to the people you’ve harmed (except when to do so would injure them or others.) I made amend to my sister, brother and mum. I haven’t done it with my dad yet, I have some more issues to work through and don’t really know how to approach that.

It felt good to own my side of the story and to apologise for my destructive behaviour. I held myself very gently through this because the only way to get through step 9 is to feel compassion for the person you were and to realise that that person was doing the best they could at that time. I have to approach all of these things with self-love because without that I fall back into self-hatred self-harm and addiction. When I talk about self-love I don’t mean ‘permissive’ – I mean …gently hold yourself accountable, understand why you were they way you were then ‘do better’ in Maya Angelou’s words.

It was exceptionally difficult to leave my family in Africa and come back. It’s always a very emotional farewell, I can’t actually put the feeling of loss into words it’s just too great. It feels immense, like an enormous vice is clamping my heart tightly and I can’t breathe. I have been numbing out my depression with sugar, tv, social media and have had several dinking thoughts come up. I found myself thinking I could just slip back into drinking for a while and drown my depression and anxiety with a bottle of red.

Then I realised that I don’t have that option anymore because most people who know me know I’m in recovery. My family, my children and all of my closest friends all know the deal.

This is why we have to tell our nearest and dearest to be accountable otherwise its way too easy to just disappear into a bottle of whiskey.

We have to burn the bridge between active addiction and our new life so that when the bad days come we look for a way through the pain not around it.

Yes I am sad to be away from my family but I am so grateful and privileged to have been able to be fully present and sober to enjoy every precious moment with them.

Sobriety does deliver on all of the promises alcohol ever made to me but sometimes when life really sucks I still just want to check out. I still feel that thirst for oblivion sometimes.

Stay vigilant I tell myself…the pull towards oblivion can get really strong but for today I’m sober and a happy to be so.

Sober camping

camping

We’ve just retuned from our annual camping holiday and I’m pleased to report that I managed to do it sober this time around and I actually enjoyed it. I am not a camper as such, Mr Hurrah is the outdoorsy type, I’m much more a self catering cottage kinda gal. On our previous camping trips booze played a really big part. As soon as we put the tent up the beers came out and we would spend our days on a slow alcohol drip between various camping activities.

This year the car was packed so full that the backseat looked like a Tetris puzzle with soft toys, blankets, pillows, 2 grumpy children and a guitar between them. We packed fairy lights, sheepskins, drums and even packed in the bunting so I was convinced that this time camping was going to be marvellous, I am sober after all, what could go wrong?

My daughter was ill the night before and I had high hopes that she just ate something bad and wasn’t actually getting a sick bug. As soon as we pulled onto the highway my hopes were dashed to smithereens when she projectile vomited all over the pillows, the seats and my arm.

FML…I stayed quite calm, as calm as to be expected in such a predicament and as soon as we could do so safely, we pulled over at the services. After we cleaned up, I told Mr Hurrah that I wanted to go home, as I really didn’t fancy spending seven days with children vomiting in their sleeping bags. Hubs, ever the eternal optimist, insisted we stay the course and see what happens.

The drinking me would have had a fit and caused a fight but the sober me considered that it could be 24-hour bug and just maybe if the gods were smiling on us and we were lucky, my son wouldn’t get it.

Onwards we went, car smelling of stale vomit with hope in our hearts.

We unpacked while my poor daughter was draped over the picnic blanket, white as a sheet. She perked up after a while, it turned out to be a 24-hour bug, which was a massive relief. After the gargantuan task of pitching the tent, unfolding and unpacking everything was complete I cracked open a coke zero, didn’t miss the beer at all.

We made a fire and had an amazing barbeque and did the obligatory marshmallows on sticks. My son insisted on doing his own and kept dropping them into the fire.

I loved going to bed in my light blue and pink fluffy unicorn onesie sober. Yes, I have a unicorn onesie and yes, it is every bit as awesome as it sounds. This time, I didn’t have to get up at 4 (still tipsy) and fumble around the bushes with a torch to find the bathroom because I wasn’t drinking wine till the ungodly hours.

The early mornings were wonderful. I got up before the kids, they went to bed later than usual and I went to bed earlier than usual, so most mornings I had an hour to myself. I sat in my unicorn onesie on my camping chair drinking my coffee listening to the birds. It was bliss. No hangover, no wondering what the hell I did the night before, totally well rested.

The next day it rained and just as it started bucketing down I realised that I forgot to pack everyone’s Wellies. No matter, the sober me was cool calm and collected, nothing a debit card cant fix. Wellies bought, we were off to the movies to watch Captain Underpants. I didn’t think it was possible for my children to learn any new ideas on toilet humour however Captain Underpants introduced a whole new level to their already potty-centred vocabulary..

There was massive storm raging when we emerged from the cinema and I suggested we pop back to the campsite to double check that our tent hadn’t blown away. When we got there we were pleased and a little surprised that the tent was still standing. Our poor unfortunate neighbour’s weren’t so lucky, their event shelter had totally collapsed and the stuff underneath was soaked.

We opted for a nice hot meal at the pub as a barbeque was clearly out of the question. There was a point when Mr Hurrah’s red wine arrived that I had a twinge and thought that a glass of red might be nice but then quickly reminded myself what that would lead to. It wouldn’t be just the one glass, it never is. I don’t know if those thoughts ever go away but they are becoming less frequent.

The rest of the holiday we were blessed with good weather so it went off without a hitch. We saw glow worms, snakes, frogs, bunnies and loads of butterflies and birds. We spent lovely family time together, no ipads, no phones.

I felt like a kid this camping holiday, I felt clean and serene. There was stress but I could handle it SO much better sober! So despite the projectile vomiting and the storms, this was by far the best camping trip ever.

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Trump supporters, pudding flops and ‘sexy ladies’

So it’s over! I feel a gargantuan sigh of relief that I managed to get through the blessed day with no alcohol and no scenes. We spent the last 3 days at my husband’s family. His aunt (the hostess) gets really nervous and overwhelmed about hosting so many people so I was working in the kitchen most of the time. That’s okay it kept me busy and out of trouble. I went for a cigarette and when I returned her pudding had flopped and she was hysterical,  running around in circles mumbling to herself. Thankfully we managed to sort it out and cooked and prepped as much as we could before Christmas day.

Woke up Christmas morning with a clear head and rushed downstairs with my two little ones to see if Santa has been. They checked the mince-pie and carrots and shrieked with excitement when they saw that they had been eaten. It was brilliant to be hangover free while they ripped open their presents and to see them beaming with joy. Once we had finished the military operation of cooking, warming everything up and getting everything on the table on time we sat down to lunch. Phew!

I was surrounded by people who have radically different political and ideological views to mine. The conversations centered around Trump and how pathetic liberals are for being in such a state after the news that he won. I am a liberal and I am a feminist so it was tough going for me to sit there and say nothing. Usually I would be downing my wine to drown out the words that were hurting my ears. This time I just sat there and I listened. I excused myself from the table when they stated laughing about a certain female politician whom Trump refers to as ‘Pocahontas’ due to her native american heritage.

I am more balanced when I’m sober because I realise they are just normal people with views different to mine. Tolerance is one of my core values after all, I need to live and let live and I need to learn to practice what I preach. So I managed to hold my tongue and let them be without feeling the need to argue my point.

In the car on the way home my son started singing Gam Gam Style and repeated the words ‘sexy ladieeeees’ over and over. His grandfather was in the car and had one massive bushy raised eye brow at the lyrics. I was in absolute stitches and could not stop laughing for love nor money. It was complete hysterical laughter, I think it was a mixture of relief about Christmas being over and just letting go of everything. I needed to let go.

The glorious everyday

Today I went Christmas food shopping with both kids in tow. (Had no choice all delivery slots were booked up by really organised people who probably buy their Christmas presents throughout the year)

I braved the big Tesco Extra with a sunny disposition and mistakenly thought we’d be quick. Naïve, I know. The shoppers were manic, the energy was tense. People were practically elbowing each other to get the best Turkeys. Of course my kids needed to toilet just as we were almost at the till and had finished an entire packet of chocolate brioches so were hyped on sugar. Rookie mistake feeding them sugar but I just grabbed the first thing I could see to feed their little faces. Most people who has or had small children will understand this.

The poor dears were so relieved to get home they escaped into their rooms for a bit while I unpacked the shopping. When they came down we made gingerbread men, while we were making the dough my daughter and I argued about the measurements and my son was being very helpful by mixing the flour and spilling it all over the floor. When we put the first batch into the oven my son kept on asking “is it ready yet” Over and over and over and over and over, for 15 minutes. The sweet relief when the oven bell rang was short lived because the decorating had to happen NOW. I iced some eyes and buttons on and they ate the sprinkles, which were meant for the buttons. They both wolfed down the cookies and gave me a massive hug. “You’re the best mommy ever!” My heart just melted.

I proceed to clear up and unbeknownst to me my son stole the foil from the cupboard. I just overheard my daughter say the words: “Safety first” when I thought I better go and check what they are up to. When I got to the bottom of the stairs I looked up to see my son wearing a foil hat and boots and the whole foil roll rolled down. “Look it’s a slide!” he screamed with excitement. Before I could say “NOOOOOOOO” has was off sliding on the foil all the way down.

He also got hold of the double-sided tape, which he stuck all over to the kitchen floor when I wasn’t looking. As I was scraping the tape of the floor with a knife it occurred to me how different this day would have been if I were still drinking. I would have lost my temper with them completely and I would have missed the absolute glorious chaos that life can be with two small humans in the house.

I’m just so happy I stopped when I did so that I can really be present, through all of it.  The mess, the arguments and the hugs.