I love Leonard Cohen’s music and poetry. If I could pick one thing which sums up how I feel about surviving (and starting to thrive) this past year, it would be this.
I have a favourite time of the year to run, and it is now. I like to run in the gloaming (my husband used this word in a sentence the other day and it is just so beautiful). Tonight the sky to the west was iridescently peach, running to purple overhead and black in the east. There was a sliver of moon and the skeletal treetops were sketched charcoal against the sky. It is an eerie, dramatic time of day. I leave cold and come home warm.
Running is time to think. Tonight I had a heavy sense of exhaustion about starting this journey again. It was mixed with a sense of elation that I can even still think about starting, after all the promises to myself which I have broken over the past couple of years. That’s an excellent sign that I still think I am worth it, that I still believe change is possible.
And then, the barriers. My husband, over dinner: “But I was really looking forward to our glass of champagne on the balcony when we get to the hotel tomorrow night. You can just have one. You do it all the time”. And me: “But when I can’t it is bad and I can’t remember things and I feel depressed and rubbish for days on end and I don’t want to end up being my father – please don’t let me end up being my father”.
We’ve had this conversation hundreds of times. I love him and he loves me, but why is he letting me drown? Why is he so committed to my personal freedom (a trait which is normally so endearing) that he can’t see what is blatantly staring him in the face? I was home after midnight twice this week. On one of those nights I had to get out of bed to throw up, violently. I retreated for a nap after lunch today with the excuse “my liver hurts”. If roles were reversed, I would be sick with worry. Doing this without his encouragement seems simply impossible.
I don’t know what happens tomorrow. Tonight it will be a cup of tea and some ice cream and a hot bath and bed. I am not going to think any further ahead than that.
Hi. It’s been a while. I have not been writing the last few months for a couple of reasons. The first is that life has been actually quite deliciously good and I tend to write more when I have something to complain about. The second is that I’ve been censoring tales of my attempts to drink moderately (some successful, most not so) because I didn’t feel this was the place for it. However, a very wise woman told me this week that it’s my blog, so I can write what I like, and I don’t have to feel responsible for how other people feel when they read it. She’s right.
Tales of moderation, done successfully, are pretty boring. It’s not even a thing if you can manage to drink two small glasses of wine over the course of an evening and behave like a mature and responsible adult. Most people can do that without even thinking about it. Not I. Even when I do manage such a mundane achievement, I want to give myself a medal. Because it’s hard for me. I can do an inverted butterfly from cradle at pole dancing (it’s pretty and upside downy and scary the first few times) and feel less proud of myself than if I have managed, for one night out of seven, to not drink too much.
This week I wasn’t going to drink at all. That somehow turned into approximately four bottles of wine in the course of five evenings. Quite a lot of that was last night. I do not feel sparkly.
What I have learned in the past year is that drinking was not the only cause of my unhappiness. Recognising that I was drinking too much and immersing myself in the online recovery world was, however, a huge step in getting better. I have learned so much about being nicer to myself, about the importance of exercise and sleep, about dealing with grief in a healthy way. Every period I have taken off drinking has made me realise how much I love life without a hangover. The past couple of months have been the best of my life so far. I’ve thrown myself into my hobbies and work. I have been present and gentle with my family. I have booked an overseas adventure. I have been running most days and I hit a point in every run when the endorphins kick in and I sprint back home literally grinning from ear to ear. This is genuine, simple happiness. I have learned to choose it. Instead of grumbling over the housework, I choose to light scented candles, listen to my favourite songs and lose myself in the rhythm of keeping things clean for my family. Instead of lamenting the days I will not have with my mother, I choose to love every single moment we have now.
So, why am I still here?
I like you all, and that’s part of it. But I would not be reading your stories still unless they meant something to me. I am sure there are lots of lovely people in the online trout fishing world as well, but I don’t hang out reading their blogs.
I’m here because I’m disgustingly hungover on a Saturday morning when I didn’t intend to be, and because I know you guys will get it (unlike my husband, who seems to think it’s totally hilarious). I’m here because that niggling concern I have about my drinking NEVER goes away, even when my life is as good as life has ever been. I’m here because my drinking, even if it is one glass, is not about fine wine with dinner. It is about escape. It is about feeding a part of me which I don’t like very much but also happens to be pretty noisy and demanding. I am here because there are still two days a week, on average, when I am too hungover for the running and the gratefulness and the simple pleasures.
I know this is such a good place to start. From a strong, sure footing with my life full to the brim with goodness. Part of the reason I haven’t started again is that I hate the repeated day ones. It is so freaking demoralising to keep going back there. But I only keep going back there because I can’t stop drinking. And I can’t stop drinking because alcohol sings a siren song to a part of me I have trouble ignoring.
We all know why I’m still here.