It’s all fun and games till you fall over at the school bingo night

When I woke up it felt like a freight train had hit my head. Something evil had my head in a vice and I couldn’t breathe. My whole body ached and was sore, it felt as if I had been beaten up, my skin was crawling. A message came through on my phone. I couldn’t open both eyes. I read the message: “Hi lovely, just checking that you are ok. you were a little worse for wear last night, a couple of falls at the school gate. Hope you are ok?”

I looked around the room, I was still in my clothes from the night before. Jesus fucking Christ what have I done?

I was desperately trying to piece the night’s events together. Ok, I was at the PTA bingo night, we were all laughing and joking around…and then nothing…a void. Some blurry flashes started coming back…I was on the bathroom floor with my friend. I couldn’t walk. I fell.

I text her back. Fuck!!! Did anyone see me??? All the fucking PTA school mums?

I was in tears, warm alcohol soaked tears that smelt of gin were rolling down my cheeks. Text came back. “No she said, we waited in the bathroom till everyone left.”

It turned out that I was so drunk I couldn’t stand up straight or walk. I fell and knocked my head on the koi pond. I was out cold for 10 minutes while my friend was wondering whether to call an ambulance. Eventually she managed to half carry me to the school shed. She rang another friend to come help carry me over the school gate and put me in a taxi home.

That was it. That was the turning point for me. There is no glossing over that or denying that you have totally lost control over how much you drink when you fall over drunk at your kid’s school.

I’ve had several of those types of moments in my life, and I think it’s true sometimes it takes a couple of rock bottoms to really reach ROCK BOTTOM.

Tonight I went to a quiz night at the school. I really didn’t want to go, but forced myself. I was so nervous, didn’t want to face the memories of that night and I cried all the way there.

As I walked past the koi pond where I fell and knocked my head I saw the lotus flowers in the water.

Something beautiful out of the murky darkness.

Warning sign?

OK so my husband and I went on this romantic mini break to Venice and it was absolutely amazeballs! We aced sober air travel and romantic dinners with no red wine in sight. All was well but…

When we were at the airport my husband said something that worried me. I brushed it off and hoped that it would go away but it’s gnawing at me. He said that he’s been toying with the idea of drinking but only when we are not in England. In other words, limiting our drinking to holidays only.

I dismissed it straight away as being silly and explained how much better off we are not drinking at all.

I have no desire of urge to even entertain this idea because I know how this deal works. First you limit it to only holidays abroad, then it becomes all holidays, then it becomes weekends and before you know it you are back on 2 bottles of wine a night.

What worries me is that he is thinking about it.

We have always been on par in our excesses. We’ve also tried to get sober together, many many times. Almost every time he started drinking again and I joined him soon after in lengthy relapses.

I’m not blaming him for my choices I fully own my decisions however I’ve always known in my heart of hearts that I wouldn’t be able to stay married if my partner wasnt also abstinent.

I’m in this for the long haul, I do not want to start the drinking roller coaster again so I am slightly apprehensive that if he’s playing with these ideas it could spell trouble on the horizon…

 

 

 

 

Romantic getaway, sans red vino

Sober firsts.

There are few things to make me feel so exposed and naked as sober first events. It’s like I’m terrified of what I might do to ruin it or that it will prove that life sucks without the boozy haze.

Airports used to be a very boozy affair. We would have our first couple of drinks to celebrate the fact that we managed to pack our suitcases before the taxi even picked us up.

Then tipsy, tipsy through bag check and passport control. We’d manage to get to a restaurant just in time to top up the alcohol level whilst checking the gate information.

On the plane we’d get as much down the hatch as the air hostess would allow, then sleep. We’d buy a bottle of something at duty-free just to make sure we were stocked and onwards drunkety-drunk to our destination.

This time we had a far less chaotic journey. We drove to the airport ourselves, we were early. Had loads of time and everything felt calmer. Except for this exposed feeling, except for all these cues telling us to DRINK. Caviar House, Pubs, Duty-Free temples to alcohol.

I practiced ‘reversing the brainwashing’ as Annie Grace recommends in her book. When I saw people drinking I just reminded myself that they were drinking a poisonous substance called ethanol that almost destroyed my life.

The feeling of deprivation subsided and made way for a feeling of intense gratitude that I get to not drink, I get the second chance at a life fully lived not in the grips of addiction.

The mood lighted and my husband and I started joking around like we usually do, he made me laugh so much I was gasping for air. We were fun without booze we never needed it to be exciting, we were spontaneous and fun without it.

It felt weird and awkward to begin with but I hope that the more we do things sober the easier it will get. It will become the new norm and I’m creating a bank of ‘sober’ memories to replace the alcohol soaked ones.

 

 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

So yesterday I sat down and wrote out all the horrible things I did while drinking. The things I could remember that is!

I cried, I howled and I breathed through it.

I wrote apologies to my children for being an absent mother and for being aggressively hung over for most of their lives.

Facing it wasnt as bad as I thought it was going to be.

I realise now that yes I did all those things and yes its totally deplorable and awful but that doesn’t define me.

That  was a drunk mess who thought she had no other option.

It’s like that quote from Maya Angelou.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

 

 

Music

I’ve noticed that Music is a big trigger for me.

I absolutely love music, love bands, gigs, festivals and I love to dance! In the last couple of months sober I have noticed that music automatically makes me think of drinking. It’s not so much that I’m craving alcohol while listening to the funky soul sounds of James Brown. It’s more a like fond memory of being drunk and enjoying myself to that particular song.

The two memories are so entwined it’s exceedingly difficult to differentiate one from the other.

I listen to music frequently, I listen to it when I run, when I work and when I’m in the car. This means I am being bombarded ever so subtly by ‘happy’ drunk party memories on a daily basis.

Warning signs are going up for me considering I have been very prone to relapsing in the past. If I am to make this a lasting change I need to find a way to reverse these thoughts or reframe them in a new way.

‘This Naked Mind’ by Annie Grace and Allan Car’s the Easyway to control alcohol have provided me with a method I base my recovery on.

The premise for these books is that there is no true pleasure inherent in the consumption of alcohol. The ‘perceived’ pleasure is a combination of a couple of things:

  1. The dopamine lie – Dopamine is released in the brain promising something amazing is on the way and makes you excited to get it.
  2. The relief you feel when you allow yourself to do something you’ve been denying yourself.
  3. The relief of the physical alcohol withdrawal if you’ve reached that point down the rabbit hole.
  4. The social situation you find yourself in when alcohol in being consumed that is truly pleasurable in and of itself, being at a concert with friends, camping at a music festival, dancing and partying the night away with your mates.

Reframing the memories and remembering the event or song itself rather that the drunkenness, perhaps trying to  remebering the outcome of the night which was inevitably chaotic, or recalling the black outs.

I don’t want to unneccesarily obsess and demonise the memories so much that it becomes a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ moral thing in my head because I know for a fact that this leads to relapse for me. My ‘willpower’ eventually runs out and doing the ‘right’ thing very quickly becomes ‘Fuck It!’

Maybe its more about making new memories and having those on tap too.

In the words of Jame Brown:  “Get up offa that thing, and dance ’till you feel better!”

 

Things I won’t miss about drinking

The self loathing that started at the 4am wake up call, the dry mouth.

Piecing the last nights events together. What did I do/say? How did I get to bed? How much did I drink? Blackouts are the pits!

The all-absorbing thought stream about how much you will drink today, where how and who with.

The pre-loading of drinks when you go to a party where the crowd drinks too slow for your liking.

The amazed look on the check out persons face when you do your weekly shop. “Having a party are we?” No actually that’s just my weekly alcohol consumption sans social interaction or occasion thank you.

The chaos surrounding an alcohol fuelled life, the confusion and disruption.

The lack of rest and sleep.

The black shadow following you around telling you that you are killing yourself and damaging everyone around you.

The denial, justification, lies you tell yourself to make the next drink ok.

Trying to moderate and failing! There is nothing more soul-destroying than trying to climb that fucking moderation mountain and feeling like a complete and utter failure every time you drink too much which invariably happened most days.

The dry skin and red eyes, the puffy marshmallow face.

The red blotchy cheecks and veins around my nose.

The drunken arguments with my husband that turned really dark and nasty.

The sinking black feeling like you are closing up like a telescope.

The eternal jingle jangle of my recycling bin.