….a false sense of security.

It’s 17months this Thursday since I quit alcohol.

Honestly?

It’s been a hard month.

The deepest darkest lows of alcoholism are so far away from me now, those black pits specks on the horizon and my resolve wavers.

Was it that bad?

I seem to be doing really well in life. I’ve learnt a lot and really managed to deal with some unresolved issues…

Maybe I could drink again and it wouldn’t be that bad…It HAS been such a long time. I could drink and do so moderately. Mindfully. That’s a thing right? Maybe at weddings? Or festivals?

The issue with having an addictive personality is having a constant internal itch inside that you don’t know how to scratch. I go to the pub and I drink far too much diet coke. I get addicted to tea and coffee, I drink it in unnatural amounts because excess is my drug! I am an addict for MORE. It can be anything. Sex. Food. Love.

I just want to stuff something inside of me and feel temporary change. I don’t know how to explain any other way. In a way it’s like being starving but nothing satiates!

I told myself I would never write a blog when feeling sad, when feeling low. When knowing this state is temporary and not a constant.

The truth, is THIS is sobriety. Not just the highs. Not just the cleverly worded and well written prose of those gifted by hindsight.

Fact is. I know some people look up to me for being open about my sobriety journey. Some people find it impressive and inspirational that I have found it so easy. I didn’t realise it until recently but there has been a certain level of pressure for me to find this easy or rather to APPEAR to never struggle. So that maybe someone will look at me and feel inspired for a change, because it isn’t that bad.

Sometimes it IS easy.

Recently it’s hard.

I think it’s important for me to talk about this bit. The ugly bit. The bit you don’t want to hear because we all want to see someone do it and do it with grace and ease; otherwise it might put you off.

My life is sometimes full of art and music. I am surrounded by poets and writers and people that fill my life with colour and inspiration. There are days where I am so high on life and cannot believe how wonderful it all is. I can’t believe I didn’t self destruct. I can’t believe my saboteur didn’t win.

…and then I’m working a lot, in a job that makes me feel trapped. I haven’t seen my partner in days and the laundry is piled high. I’m SO tired. My brain feels too big for my skull and my sleep is the sleep of the exhausted. Without dreams. I miss my family but they live far away and I haven’t had the time off to go and see them. I’ve come off anti depressants and am feeling the changes. Often my anxiety or depersonalisation rears it’s head and it gets a bit much.

I try and recapture the magic but inside my body isn’t receptive. I go to the pub and I want to drink. I want to drink because I can’t remember why I don’t drink? I just want to feel the same thing everyone else is feeling. I want to drink and I want it to be the right answer this time.

Instead I go outside and I smoke a roll up cigarette. I rationalise this in my head because it’s only ONE and at least it isn’t booze. I tell people “this is my little bit of naughty – I am allowed a bit of naughty” because in my head its the lesser evil. Then I go home and I smell and my mouth tastes bad. I get a smoke headache and feel groggy the next day.

Would it be better to just have a shandy? Just one? Or two? WOULD IT MAKE ME A TERRIBLE PERSON?

I haven’t broken my sobriety. Is a relapse necessary to remind me of why I even do this?

I feel guilty writing that sentence. But it’s the truth and there’s no point sharing any of this if I don’t share ALL the elements.

I know I am just tired and feeling low.

I know this will pass.

For now I’m going to accept this is how I feel and that right now questioning my sobriety is Ok for me to do.

I’m going to leave this here. As it is. Because right now I don’t have an answer.

When I write again hopefully I will have an answer.

Hopefully this will pass, and a new lesson will be learnt.

I honestly thought I was done writing about sobriety because I didn’t consider it to be something I struggled with anymore.

…isn’t that funny?

….nurture part 2

The Matriarch

I see her, larger than life

A halo of light curls and a smile for miles

I am small and she tells stories to me

And I can fall into her arms -become lost in arms 

 

I boast to my young followers at school 

“My Nanna knows how to make a fire from sticks”

And when I walk with her, I walk with chin held high

I am her little guardian by her side

 

If she were a bird she would be an owl

Round face and open eyes 

Seeing all and knowing -so much

She answers all my questions 

And shows me how to make magic with my hands

Her voice is law

As we create mischief with feet in ponds 

She booms displeasure and inside I quake 

In awesome fear and yet I am delighted 

I grow into womanhood and cry tears onto dresses

As we sit at the kitchen over steaming cups 

She shakes her curls and reminds me I am young

There is so much life ahead 

 

I fly from nest to nest 

Yet often I fly home to touch onto the familiar soil that is wherever –she- is

I bring her my troubles and heart aches and lay them at her feet for judgement 

Her word is law, and I am a devout citizen

 

It’s strange how many years go by before I notice 

That curly halo turning silver 

Fingers of time have touched your face and left their paths 

Your force now a gentler breeze

Yet still to me you are LARGE and so bright 

Your voice calming the tempest within me

My wildest rages and incessant tears turned to quiet acceptance 

Against the walls of your stolid resolve

 

I get the call and I am told I am needed 

I come because, how could I not?

You are so small…. The chair around you engulfing your tiny frame 

I hold you in my arms and it is I, who envelope you now 

Your halo is slicked and lifeless against your skull 

and you ask me to help restore it’s former glow

I pour warm water over your hair

Your head so small –so-small….

fragile under my fingers

The curls are flat and limp 

My ribs begin to ache 

As I realise you are a spirit inside of a body that is failing 

Your skin hanging off rattling bones 

Your smiles come slower 

And your eyes tell of visions I can’t see 

and you communicate with voices I cannot hear 

as the tv chatters  a shadow lingers in the corners 

whispering of mortality 

I lie awake and beg that your body will not fail you 

I lie awake and beg you won’t leave me

I lie awake and I pray to a god that I don’t believe in

And in moments I am reduced to a child 

Head in your lap as I sob futile tears into the lines of your hands 

I whisper that there has never been a love as constant as mine 

And that for me you will live forever 

Hands on hips and mocking smile 

Halo curls

You will never cease

You will return to your true form 

You always were an owl 

Gliding silently into the night 

 

….TRIGGERS…

Triggers.

You know what I mean right?

That ‘thing‘ that happens. Something someone says, all the things they didn’t say. The fist of anxiety closing in around your heart and making it hard to breath. A fallout with a friend or loved one. Shit day at work. A breakup. Rejection. Dejection. Grief. Loss. Flashbacks. Nightmares. The “event” you can’t talk about to anyone because it hurts too much.  The fact you dropped your super noodles on the floor whilst on your period and its all just a metaphor for how shit life is and the only way to get through this moment – right here, right now; is to get really, drunk. I mean really drunk.

Triggers can be big or small but they still have the same function…

That panicked feeling of “I can’t handle this moment and I need to feel different right NOW“.

Instant gratification, ya know?

So, how do I cope with having “triggering” feelings sober?

I do recall after the initial ‘high’ of deciding to go sober I had a few weeks riding that wave and thinking this was gonna be easy. Peace of cake. I got this. I am a strong sober independent woman and I don’t need alcohol anymore.

Oh – no, no my friend! It’s not that easy. After a while the high will wear off and the hard work will begin.

I was warned about it but I ignored them because I just thought my story would be different. I was wrong.

I have been sober for a few months and been doing really well, yet today I woke up and something was different. I can’t place a finger on the feeling but I just don’t feel right. I am walking into rooms and staring and not knowing why I’m there. I can’t watch TV. I can’t paint. I can’t write songs. I shower and clean myself and look in the mirror and end up placing my head into my hands with a pit inside of me opening up and threatening to overwhelm me.

I feel intensely irritated. I’m having the kinda day where nothing seems to go smoothly. I can’t leave the house without dropping keys, snagging coats on door handles, putting the milk into the sink instead of in the cupboard.

I am restless and I pace.

I can’t concentrate on any conversations.

I really want to drink.

Shit.

That’s the first time this has happened since deciding to go sober.

Shit. Shit.

I call my partner and tell him I need to go out tonight. I want to be social. That’s what I used to do right? I can be social and not drink. That way the coping is kinda the same. Right?

He comes home and I sit in my bedroom getting ready painfully aware of the missing wine glass from the dressing table and I grit my teeth. Before we leave I open the fridge to find an alcohol free beer and I down it. I throw it down my neck like a long loved habit.

We head to the pub and meet with friends. I’m out of the house and engaging in the conversation whilst all the time getting angrier and angrier that my Becks blue isn’t making me feel any different. I keep taking sips and expecting a different result. That’s because it’s fake. The illusion of alcohol; but NOT alcohol. I’m really angry. I squash it but inside I am furious at myself and the useless fake booze.

I really want a drink.

We go to another pub and are joined by more friends. As the night takes its course I become quieter and quieter. Feeling myself slide into the background. Like a camera shot out of focus.

Everyone is nice and furry and soft from booze. Eyes half open as they have slurring conversations which each other and I feel as though they are all in the same bubble and I am on the outside. Inside of the bubble they can understand each other and are connected with each other, yet from the outside all I hear is mumblings and I am lonely.

I am no longer angry. It makes me feel sad and alone.

I make my excuses and leave. I can’t be here. I don’t know why I insisted on this. This isn’t what I want.

As soon as I am out in the night air I take a deep breath. I am alone and it’s cold but there is relief. I take myself to a Chinese takeaway and order some food to take home with me. I drive home briefly noting to myself that THIS is a perk of sobriety.

I take my chow mein and my dog to bed with me. Don’t judge.  Pyjamas, family Guy, chow mein, doggy cuddles and some alone time. Just me and my thoughts.

This is the first time in years I have had to sit with that “feeling” and not drown it out with booze. I hadn’t realised that is what I had been doing but here it was staring me in the face. When the going gets tough, the tough gets drinking.

Sobriety was easy when it was easy. The high can’t last though, eventually old habits rear their ugly heads and you have to deal with them. I no longer knew HOW to cope when I was feeling “triggered”, whilst in a lucid state of being. For so many years I had avoided being alone with my unpleasant thoughts…but if I was going to continue on this path I was going to have to get used to this; and find a new way of coping.

It’s all about re-training the ole brain. Learning new habits. Learning to accept the way you feel and not feel the compulsion to turn to something external to fix it.

Saying, “Ok. This is how I am feeling. What can I do to ride it out until I feel something else? Until I can naturally move on?”

Instead of fighting the feeling, or burying the feeling, or smothering it in alcohol only to have it carry over into hangover the next day. A vicious cycle of ‘not really coping’.

Since then I have been triggered many times. Too many times to count I guess…and each time I rode out the feeling until it passed, the stronger in myself I started to feel. I started to get to know myself in a whole new way. Really sit with my thoughts instead of running from them and I was surprised…I was surprised because there were certain aspects of myself alien to me. All of my reactions and all of my feelings were completely organic and not influenced by substance so occasionally I would say and feel things and afterwards turn it over and over in my mind like a puzzle.

Instead drinking of through triggers, I would decline invites, knowing that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy myself and not feel distant. Often I call someone to just share how I feel, or I write them down. Could be poetry. Could be a song or just a random outburst that doesn’t make sense other than to be what it is. Catharsis.

Catharsis. Release.

It was freeing, liberating. Sometimes difficult but worth it for the lesson learnt afterwards.

Thats what this journey has been about.

I wasn’t really learning when it was ‘easy’. So, I guess I am all the more grateful for the difficult days, because without them I wouldn’t know the strength and the will within me.

Reaching rock bottom can be a glorious thing because then your feet can touch ground  and you can launch yourself back up again. Remake yourself on your own terms.

Thats how I feel now, over sixteen months into sobriety. I feel brand new. Like I get a fresh start. Like finally I get to show the world who I really am.

Theres nothing to hide behind.

Theres nothing to run from.

…Tonight is THE night..I can feel it.

 

Here I sit, my hair curled, my eyes lashed in mascara, I am smiling and I look like anyone else. We sit in a group. The picture of a typical group of friends who found each other and got stuck in their habits. This is ‘our’ bar. We come here every Friday before they turn the music up too loud and it’s time for us to go to the next place we feel comfortable in. The beer is gross but it’s cheap and we get our first one free.

We rant about our days and we flirt with the idea that we want change but we know that’s all bullshit, and as long as we keep meeting up and keep getting free beer; nothing will change. We are comfortable. Yeah, we itch and twitch every now and then but change takes commitment. Sometimes we have amazing nights. We’ll just keep going and hope that tonight turns out to be one of the rare ones.

I’ve had a bad day, there’s been news from home that sits heavy in my stomach and threatens to throw itself up into the conversation. I know this is dangerous. We’re all fine as long as we skirt around the big stuff. Our group thrives on the ability to sweep a hell of a lot of shit under a really heavy duty rug. Don’t look under that thing. Don’t talk about it. Don’t look at it. Have another beer. We’ll forget soon enough.

I look around the table and wonder how many of these people actually know or even like me?

It’s just getting a hell of a lot harder, ya know? I’m finding it hard to maintain my manic pixie dream girl persona and slip into the actual mess of a human I am. I know all of this will shatter if I admit I am more than just patterned dresses and home dyed hair. You have to be having fun…all the time. These are the best years of our life. We are young and the beer is really, really cheap!

I snap myself out of the reverie I’m in and join in on the surface level conversation. We are so vibrant. Our chat peppered with film and music references, we talk about sex and the universe and never get too close to anything ‘real’. I go out for a cigarette and I’m well and truly drunk now. My friend catches a look in my eyes and tells me not to dwell on any of that ‘shit’.

“I got a feeling about tonight, tonight’s going to be a good one!” She whispers in my ear and we giggle together. Before I follow her back inside.

I shove that “shit” back down inside of me. Like bile.

The bar turns the music up until we can’t hear each other anymore and we all collectively moan.

“TO THE NEXT PUB!”

We stumble out into the night, ruddy cheeks and beer breath, arms wrapped around each other as we agree that “Tonight is THE night…” it’s going to be a big one. We’re not finished yet.

The next pub is blurry. My laugh buzzes in my ears and my lungs are filled with smoke. I’m holding hands with someone and they are passionately singing along to a Bruce Springsteen song. I’m feeling good. Maybe tonight IS the night.

I make eye contact with the boy I am secretly in love with and look away. I’m not ready for that.

There is a black space between the last pub and the bench we are stood around. We pass around a can of disgusting WHITE ACE cider that causes each unwilling participant to shudder in disgust. It’s a game called ‘sippers’. I don’t actually know the rules. NOBODY  KNOWS THE RULES! We just pass it around the group each taking a sip. Before heading to the grossest nightclub in town.

We enter and it smells bad. I wrinkle my nose and stumble around until I know I’m at the bar and I order two shots of sambucca for myself. I neck them in one and whirl around to a song I vaguely know. I find my group and we move as one organism to the dance floor, grabbing each other, falling over one moment, reaching into the sky the next.

I slip away to watch them all. I see my friend making out with a bearded man double her age. I see the boy I secretly love kiss his girlfriend. I see people laughing all glass eyed as another terrible song starts. I feel the loneliness rise up inside of me as the ‘shit’ I keep shoving down starts bubbling away inside my stomach and I don’t want to kill the vibe of the night so I leave.

I am too drunk to make this next decision but instead of going home I go by myself to another bar. I don’t recall what I order and I don’t remember how but I start talking to a stranger and we head to the marina to find a bench. I don’t remember the strangers face or anything they say but I pour my heart out to them. All of the ‘shit’ inside of me comes spilling out and before I know it my darkest fears and most secret secrets are in the air around us, in the open floating around, finally freed.

There is more dark space. I am alone, the stranger has left. I stare at the water and wonder wether I am happy. I wonder if maybe change would be good. I feel slightly lighter. I thank the stranger, in my head and hope to God that I never see them again.

I notice light in the ripples, it must be nearly dawn. I have numerous missed calls on my phone but I ignore it. I throw my shoes into the water and stumble home…

 

 

…10 (not so serious) ways in which my life has improved since ditching booze!

That’s right! It’s list time. I ruddy well love a good list…

Some of my posts are ‘serious’ stuff and that’s fine, sobriety/addiction/mental health are aspects of my life I take seriously however there are some NOT so serious but still intriguing elements to a life off the ole sauce. So I shall list them. Because lists are fun. Lists.

 

  1. My breath smells better. Yep, that’s right. No more boozy fag breath. I don’t know about anyone else but excess alcohol led to smoking forty fags in one night and stumbling to a kebab house for some chips and cheese. Not good for snogging.
  2. You will lose weight! Yep, I am slimmer and trimmer. The calories from booze and the chips and cheese stop offs take their toll, so as soon as you cut that out the pounds fall off.
  3. BYE BYE HANGOVERS! It’s an obvious one but it’s a goddamn good one people! Instead of spending the day eating copious amounts of beef flavoured crisps and watching Homeward Bound on repeat crying into vomit filled washing up bowls; I now wake up all fresh like a Disney princess and float around the house singing songs to woodland animals.
  4. I own more pairs of shoes. Yes, that is correct; shoes. I used to have a strange drunk ritual of ending my night by throwing my shoes into the Marina where I live, or leaving my shoes under pub tables. I don’t do that now.
  5. I am not crusty anymore. You see, a life going from one ‘session’ to the next meant there was not much room for cleansing, toning and moisturising ones face…in fact it was much quicker to leave last nights makeup on and just ‘top it up’ for the next evening  shenanigans. My eyeliner was so thick you could see it from space. Fact. I had a pale. crustaceous, fatigued appearance I just thought made me look rock star chic. It didn’t. I looked crusty. There is a reason I was called “Crusty Hughes”.
  6. I used to be good at table football. Now I am GREAT at table football. Seriously. I- am-the-best.
  7. I understand that a conversation is not me shouting my opinions at people, waiting for them to get whatever they have to say out of the way before I can continue shouting my opinions at them. Honestly woman! Shut up! I definitely sit back a lot more these days but it’s nice to actually listen and observe. My drunk self did not like taking a back seat.
  8. I no longer think so little of myself that I am happy being ‘the mess’ of the group. I am not ‘the mess’ and refused to be defined in that way by my own brain. YOU LIVE –IN ME– BRAIN! I AM THE BOSS!
  9. My tights last longer. No more buying a pair a day only to return home at 4am with holes and rips all over the buggers and no idea how it happened…*cough* climbing trees *cough*
  10. I sleep in my own bed. The floor, spare room, bathroom floor, spare room floor, laid on top of hair straighteners on the floor, a bush, a bench….those used to be the most common places in which I laid my crusty head. Now I have a king size bed with cushions and everything and it’s chuffing wonderful!

…So there you have it!

If ya fancy it leave me a comment if you can think of any not so serious, but cool benefits of the sober life!

 

…There is magic in the details.

I’ve been living in this fog for a while now, how long I’m not really sure. I open my eyes and still don’t feel as though I’m seeing. I walk around and still can’t feel my feet touching ground. People I love talk to me and I watch their lips move and their faces change and their words and affections bounce off me like I have my own invisible shield.

I go for long walks and take deep breaths, counting to three, holding my nose, sustaining release. I hold onto the man I love but my heart is still empty and aching, I cannot hold him close enough…I feel I could crush his bones into mine and still feel this distance.

I stare into the mirror and I laugh emptily at this face I don’t recognise. My voice rings like a song too far out of reach to make out words.

What is happening to me?

I go to social events and wait for something, anything. I drink heavily in the hope that something is going to jolt me back into my body and I am bitterly disappointed. Instead the poison I keep deep down inside of me rises up like it usually does when I drink and I spit it all out over anyone close to me, I push them away, I scream, I try and make them hurt because I can. It isn’t fair that these people can just go through life as though nothing is wrong; sit there laughing and joking and drinking as though the world is theirs to leisurely walk through without a care. I hate everyone. Get away from me.

 My jealousy over normalcy eats me up from the inside and I am left with only ashes and the same old fog of the day before; and the day before that, and the day before that.

I’m lying in the spare room bed because I’m afraid my thumping heart will disturb my partner. My heart beat is frightening me and it’s slowly getting faster and my spine is aching. I feel as though the world is ending even though nothing in the ordinary magnolia walls reflects this feeling of impending apocalypse and every breath feels like it might catch halfway up my windpipe and be my last. Tears prick my eyes; hot and heavy tears and I blink trying to keep them at bay but before I know it I am flooding. The flood lasts for hours and hours, accompanied by my thudding heart and ragged breaths and I find myself praying for this all to end. I don’t think I can live in this fog anymore, a world away from any real sense of connection.

The sun has risen and I am still crying, I find myself muttering to myself to just stop. Stop this; but I can’t. Stop it. Stop IT!

Eventually I am dry and nothing more can be rung from me. I arise and put my body into the shower. I am exhausted and trembling. I sit on the sofa and stare out of the window for a few hours then pick up my phone and without thinking about what I am doing I call the doctors…and listen to it ring. Eventually a female answers and I open my throat and thick words crackle out of me “Yes, hi. I’d like an appointment please…I…I think I need help”.

That day is ingrained into my soul like no other. I remember it so vividly as those that preceded it fade into nothing. It’s like a burning beacon in my memory. Booking the appointment and then getting dressed, walking down the road to the doctors as though I was being followed. I was desperate. I remember how desperate I was like an echo in the heart. I remember sitting in the chair opposite my GP and plead with silent eyes for an answer. The GP nodded and looked at some of my previous history, asked about my family; asked about me. I told and I didn’t lie. With a bobbing head he hands me a prescription and a form to fill in for the mental health referral team.

My first week on anti-depressants was an odd one. At first I was on a little bit of a high. When I got home from the doctors surgery I remember a huge sense of relief. I’d done it, I had realised I have a problem and I had actually made the first step towards getting help and not told any lies. The act of actually looking the issue straight in the face had started me on a path to recovery I would only later truly comprehend but after years of denial this first step felt like a huge leap.

I knew I shouldn’t drink on anti-depressants so this was also one of the first steps to addressing my alcohol problem…

I took the pills. I took one a day and I really looked inwards into myself for a few weeks. The fifth day I could almost feel chemicals in my brain adjusting, it was almost like a headache that isn’t quite painful. I was distant but different to the distance I had grown used to, it was lighter, less dense. I didn’t tell anyone but I would sometimes find conversations difficult and my clumsiness became a source of amusement for me and my partner who knew what I was going through. People would speak and I would process before responding, then when I did respond it was almost a surprise to me and I would laugh; the words almost floating in front of my eyes in the air.

I slept better. The internal monologue I had been carrying had been dulled to a murmur and was easier to ignore, or rather I just didn’t have the energy to care.

I couldn’t tell what was the pills and what was ‘me’. Am I doing this? Am I making this happen or is this the medication? I didn’t care at this point. Something was happening. That was all I needed; change.

I spent two weeks sleeping, processing, adapting. Like a new born who needs to tread life softly, delicately for fear I would break apart and drift into the atmosphere.

Finally after approximately three weeks I started to feel more human, less conscious of what was going on in my brain. Only this time the fog had dissipated and I had been so pre-occupied and fascinated with my internal goings on that I didn’t even notice. I looked with my eyes and they could see. I went for walks and I saw the shapes and colours that make up the world around me and I was in them. I looked at my partner and saw his face and his smile and felt something inside me wake up.

One day I went for a walk and looked at the leaves on the ground and burst into tears. They were wonderful! My dog gave me a confused look and I cried and laughed because I could see the leaves and I could see their colours and that was wonderful.

I went for my first social outing since ‘that day’ at the doctors and my partner held my hand under the table, knowing I was suffering badly with social anxiety, knowing I would struggle when people asked why I wasn’t drinking. We had discussed it and I wasn’t ready to tell people what I was going through, it felt private. It felt almost sore, like if I spoke of it to anyone else it would start hurting me again. I made it through but not without being asked if I was pregnant; amusing but not the truth.

I sometimes wonder If I hadn’t gone on medication and if I hadn’t gone to the doctor for help that day, would I still have eventually reached the conclusion that sobriety was the answer for me? I don’t know. I am glad for that day though. I look back and I am so thankful that I didn’t stay lost in that fog and allow myself to disappear completely.

Eventually my sense of self and of where I sat within reality re-aligned. The stronger I grew the easier it was to open up to those close to me and for me to be more honest with myself and others.

The most wonderful thing though was that along the way I rediscovered my ability to see all the magic there is in the world, the magic in the details. The blue of the veins under my skin, the soft kind brown of my partners eyes, the feeling of my feet stood solid on the ground, the sound as a laugh breaks free from my chest and goes ringing into the air as a reminder of joy; startling and brilliant.

For so long it was closed off to me, hidden by the fog. Depression was like having all my nerve ends severed, it felt like ‘nothing’ like I was completely empty. Alcohol unleashed the worst of me at myself and those I loved. Both were entwined in each other and moulding my life into something painful to endure…

…but I got out…How long had I been there? My memories are sometimes difficult to retrieve and I have lost days, weeks.

…But I got out. I am here. I am present.

….”sobriety is boring”

It’s a Saturday day time and I am bored. I have the whole day to myself…and I don’t know what to do with it. 

What do people do, who don’t spend the whole weekend being hungover?

I didn’t realise I spent so many of my days off hungover. I don’t miss the hangover but I’ve hit a new obstacle in my sobriety journey. So, I don’t stay out all night until 4am (carrying a pumpkin and trying to climb into the house via the window) and I don’t subsequently spend the whole of the next day alternating between lying on the bathroom tiles and eating every brand of crisps I can get a hold of that are ‘beef’ flavoured. 

I’m bored. Sobriety is boring.

I find myself relating to Memes on Facebook “ALCOHOL – because no great story started with a salad!”. Maybe they are right. Maybe I am fighting a losing battle. Maybe life IS boring without alcohol. 

Only that can’t be the answer because alcohol is making me fucking miserable. It used to be fun, until it wasn’t. Now I can’t remember the last time it was fun. So what now?

The answer was in my past. Way way way back to a girl who hung out in her purple bedroom in a yellow paint stained dressing gown.

Once upon a time I was too young to drink. That’s right, I had lived quite a number of years happily booze free and not even realising I was supposedly “missing out”. Interesting. 

I didn’t have friends back then. I had paint brushes, books, long walks in the woods just daydreaming to myself, I made maps of imaginary worlds, wrote stories, I sang songs and lived a full existence and never once felt bored. That was what was different about me to my siblings…I always knew how to keep myself busy and happy.

One hangover free Saturday I went into town and without really thinking about it I bought myself a drawing pad and some graphite pencils. I took myself home and I plonked my bum down and I sat for a few hours with some music on and just drew…for hours. Hours and hours. In fact I sat drawing for pretty much the entire day. It was awesome. Why had I stopped doing this? Look at me, drawing, no hangover with breath that tastes like a pack of fags and 15 cans of Stella! Once my drawing was complete I was pretty impressed to see that I didn’t suck, I still had some ability and more importantly the process took me completely out of my own head. I wasn’t bored. I was strangely at peace and I had something to show for it.

Well, things just got interesting.

I bought paints. Oil paints. I used to paint like a maniac when I was a kid. Art had been one of my favourite subjects, I had the coolest art teacher at school who used to put her hair up with a pencil and would encourage my weird obsession with bird skeletons and allow me to fly my arty ‘freak’ flag as much as I pleased.

What else could I do? Hello pandoras box. I HAVE SO MUCH FREE TIME! I COULD DO ANYTHING!

I spy an old beat up guitar in the spare room and decide to have a go. I had an ex boyfriend who used to play and I would watch, head tilted to one side, secretly logging in my brain so I could have a go myself in private. I’d dabbled over the years, occasionally got really wasted and played a few songs badly at an open mic or a friends party. I never remembered playing though…I had always got way too drunk and then the next day would feel ashamed.

I’m going to learn and I’m going to perform -sober!

…and I did! The first time I signed up to play an open mic and I was sober was literally the most terrifying experience of my life. No social lubricant, no tingly sense of alcohol induced confidence. Just an overwhelming and LOUD sense of clarity. I remember getting up and the lights were in my eyes and the words to the song completely left my brain…I made a joke on the mic and I fumbled my way through a song. I heard every mistake and felt every stumble…but at the end people were clapping, my heart was thumping and I knew it wasn’t perfect but I did it! I don’t think anyone knew how much of a big deal this was for me to have done it without alcohol but secretly inside I felt wonderful. I have conquered a fear.

The more I did things that scared the living be-jesus out of me the less afraid I felt. The more my willpower grew. It was getting easier to say ‘no’ to booze and to the negative habits in my life and instead saying ‘yes’ to the so called ‘scary stuff’, the stuff I wanted to do but was to afraid I wasn’t good enough. I remember being drunk at open mics and watching girls sing and feeling that sting of jealousy that I couldn’t do that.

Well now that’s me. I’m THAT girl!

Since my decision to not let sobriety be boring or to hold me back I’ve been WAY more productive and fearless. I spent the majority of my twenties ‘living for the weekend’ and thinking that the fun was at the bottom of a wine bottle, that I missed out on so much. I had forgot all the things that used to make me happy organically and left behind that girl in the yellow dressing gown. I kept trying to be someone I wasn’t and it eventually made me very unhappy. Now I feel more myself than ever and actually proud of the person I am. Being a party girl made me despise myself, being an arty girl gives me all sorts of self love.

I don’t know about you but I don’t think that sounds boring at all. I think the stigma that sobriety is “boring” can stick itself up its own arse.