Life is a funny old thing, don’t you think? This week, I celebrated 30 days sobriety, although to me it felt like much longer. 1 month sounds so fledgling and, compared to the people I have met who have been sober for so many years (something I am battling to comprehend), it is indeed such a short time. Of course, with alcohol being what it is, I am now no longer the ‘new’ newbie. Since starting AA, a couple of other people have started their journey into sobriety and even though I am still considered a ‘newbie’ (not sure when I actually get to shed that label), I feel much ‘older’ because through the love of the members of AA, I am already forming friendships and feeling more connected than I have ever been in my life. I feel like a part of the club, so to speak. However, as I look at those newcomers, I am forced to not forget what brought me to AA in the first place, and that is a good thing, since complacency is an alcoholics downfall, as many will tell you.
Life on life’s terms is a saying that I have learned, but am not ready yet to apply. I like to control, I realise. I don’t like to Let Go and Let God and I am definitely not very good at Easy Does It. These are sayings that I see every time I attend an AA meeting. I read them, but I am not sure I comprehend them.
Today I celebrate 20 days sobriety. I use the term celebrate loosely as I am truly not in a celebratory mood. It is Friday and Friday was always settle-down-early-with-some-wine-to-kick-off-the-weekend day. I am seriously mourning that day.
Well, it has been a hectic week. I started back at college and it seems my feet haven’t touched the floor. I am at college for four days a week, one day of which is from 9am to 9pm and I am exhausted. Second year requires so much more work than I could ever have imagined. This is why I haven’t blogged as much.
Day 7 of sobriety, and what a week it has been. My body clearly doesn’t like this feeling. Today is Saturday and it is the first time in years I have woken up on a Saturday where I haven’t hammered the wine the night before, yet I still woke up with a dry mouth and groggy. I think my body expects to be hungover.
Early morning of Day 5 of sobriety. I slept well for the first time in almost a week. DH had given me some natural, over-the-counter sleeping tabs and perhaps that was the reason. Perhaps it was the prayer that I made to God to please give me a rest, to let my mind quieten and body to fall into a deep slumber. Whichever it was, I am grateful. However, I haven’t woken up feeling good. In fact, I have woken up feeling really grumpy and extremely weepy.
So, it is day 4 of sobriety. It feels strange. It isn’t like just giving up drinking to detox or to give your liver a break for a while. This is life changing abstinence. I have that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me nothing will be the same again. Intellectually, I know that it will not be the same and even for the better, but right now I’m not feeling great, I have to admit.
I am powerless over alcohol.
No-one likes to admit this and I am no exception.
I have known, of course, for years that this is the case, but like any grieving process, I was in denial.
People who are alcoholics do grieve. They grieve the loss of being that good time person, the life and soul of the party. They grieve the dutch courage afforded them through that elixir their bodies so desperately crave. They grieve being the person who cannot drink socially, having one or two drinks, and being content with that.
For me, it wasn’t being the good time person, or the dutch courage. It was the numbness it brought night after night.
If I am brutally honest, I have probably been an alcoholic since I was 14 years old, when my best friend and I snuck booze out of both of our parents’ booze cabinets, decanting them into yellow, plastic cold drink bottles, and slugging it down in her bedroom, if I recall.
It was a premeditated affair. We had been planning it for weeks. The effects were almost immediate. Within minutes I was running atop my friend’s four foot wall, yelling I wanted to die.
Alcohol has always played a part in my life. My dad, and I know he won’t mind me telling you this, is an alcoholic. His brand of alcoholism was not pleasant and had reached a particularly nasty high (or is that low) around the time I turned 15, 6 months after I had my first experiment with alcohol. Life had become pretty unbearable and I remember begging my mom to leave my dad.
She almost did, but then he convinced her that their marriage was worth saving and at 5am on the morning we were due to leave, my parents woke me to tell me that they were going to give it one more go.
I felt so betrayed. My mom and I had planned the exit with mission impossible precison. We had colluded to leave my dad in such a fashion that it would be too late for him to convince us, again , that he would indeed stop drinking. Now, my mother had betrayed me. I felt isolated, and alone. Not the first time and certainly not the last.
Three months later, my dad gave up alcohol for good. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous and has remained sober for the last 26 years. He is, and always will be, an inspiration.
So it was with great shame that I came to the realisation that I indeed was also powerless over alcohol. Deep inside, I knew of course, but I did not want to face it. I am sure, if I am honest, that my friends and family knew it. They never said anything, however. On the odd occasion someone might have suggested something along those line, I would dismiss it and tell myself that they should try walking in my shoes for just a day and see how they would feel.
Justification is a big thing in an alcoholic’s life, I have come to realise.
My confrontation of this addiction came out of the blue.
Yesterday, I was visiting a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long while. We were talking about our lives, filling in the blanks where we had left off, about a year ago. I had mentioned a couple of times about my increase in drinking due to some stresses that had occureed in the past year.
Suddenly, my friend stopped talking, hesitated, looked at me right in the eyes and said:
“Do you think you are an alcoholic?”
The question slapped me right across the face. I felt my face flush. Tears immediately welled up. I stammered and then simply said, “Yes”.
Despite knowing the signs, and knowing deep down inside that I had become caught up in the grip of alcoholism, I really didn’t want anyone else to know.
I should know better, I should be able to control this monster. I had been to Al-Anon and Alateen for God’s sake. I did not belong on the other side of the fence. The shame was unbearable.
My friend is a good friend, and being a nurse, she urged me to get help. She urged me to see my GP and to join AA, and to even see a psychiatrist if I wanted to. I am not sure I am ready to talk to my GP as yet, but I am ready to go to AA.
I think being around people who share the same affliction may give me some comfort. If I am honest, I am scared out of my wits. I don’t want anyone else to know.and I certainly don’t want my father to know. He must know of course. He must have watched over the last 26 years, in his sobriety, saddened and powerless, as I descended further and further into the abyss of alcohol.
The shame I feel is haunting.
It must seem strange that I am blogging about this, since I have said I don’t want anyone to know. Well, strangely, this is cathartic. By writing down my thoughts, my feelings and confronting my issues via this blog, I am no longrer able to run away from them, or pretend that they don’t exist. I am able to say yes, this is my problem, no longer hiding, but standing up and saying no more will I put myself through this turmoil, no longer can I pretend that there isn’t something drastically, horribly wrong.
So, today, is day 2 of sobriety. I had planned on having some wine last night after seeing my friend, but funnily enough, it just didn’t have the allure when I got back home. So yesterday was Day 1. I will keep blogging my progress, more for myself than anyone else.
I need to do this to help me be accountable. I hope I make it.
In AA, they have a saying:
Just for today
So, just for today, I will not drink. Just for today, I will be strong. Just for today, I will be grateful for my friend, who had the courage to make me confront the inevitable, and my family, who have watched helplessly as I disintegrated as a person, yet have unyieldingly stuck by me, showing me every drop of love they have every single day. Just for today, I will find some pride and make them proud.
Just for today…
Until next time,
I have to admit that I am not a George Clooney fan.
I must be one of a rare breed of forty-somethings who have never found him remotely sexy. I would watch him in ER and the Ocean’s movies and somehow never managed to get caught up in Clooney-fever.
But then I have never been a hero-worshipper. In my teen years, when my friends drooled over their pop star or actor heroes, plastering posters of them all over their pop star or actor heroes, plastering posters of them all over their bedroom walls, my walls were pristine and my nose was always in a book. I could never quite see the allure in placing one person on such a high pedestal. I would watch my friends and scoff at their ridiculous adoration of a person who would never know they existed.
And so it was with George Clooney in my twenties. Again, when my twenty-something friends were fantasising about languishing with him on some tropical island beach, ocean waves lapping at their bodies, I quietly laughed, thinking what a ridiculous waste of energy all this fantasising took – energy that could be put to much better use. No, George Clooney was never going to be my muse.
To make matters worse, I didn’t rate him much as an actor either (sorry, George).
However, when Up in the Air hit the media with such hype, such adoration of Clooney’s acting, touting the awards for which he was being nominated, implying that this was his best work yet, that he had actually reached new levels of acting prowess, I began to wonder if I hadn’t got it all wrong.
I watched the trailer online, with the added interviews, which cleverly weaved a take of an actor that had finally made his mark, that this would be the move for which he would be remembered.
Suddenly, I didn’t want to miss the boat. I didn’t want to be that person that had doubted, was proven wrong and hadn’t been there to see it.
My sister-in-law and I had decided to take our teenage daughters to see a movie and since Up in the Air was the only movie available at the time that suited us both, we went to see it. Okay, in truth I convinced my sister-in-law to see it with me because my husband refused to go and see George Clooney (I think a lot of men suffer from Clooney-hatred).
Having never been a Clooney fan, but wit the ringing of the Golden Globe and expected Oscar nomination in my mind, I decided to give it a ‘fair go’.
Sorry Geroge, but it was awful.
There is no other way to put it. It was slow and laborious in the way the story was woven, predictable in a lot of areas and had a ridiculous ending that had my sister-in-law and I looking at each other and saying out loud “Is that it?”
I felt betrayed. Here I was, George’s worst fan, prepared to give him a chance based on the promise of acting prowess strong enough to get him a possible Golden Globe and even an Oscar and what did I get? A two hour Clooney monologue with him interacting with a few characters along the way. Characters, I might add, that had no depth or meaning, except to reiterate the meaningless purpose of his character’s life.
Here was an opportunity for the producers to make Clooney shine, to allow him to surpass his stereotypical crooning and to find some depth in his character. Instead, they chose the safe option. He crooned, he smiled, his eyes twinkled, he was empathetic. He was stereotypical Clooney-perfect, the entire way through, for two agonising hours.
One might even be able to forgive this lack of depth if the story itself was reasonable, but it wasn’t. The movement of the movie was so one dimensional and incredibly predictable – certainly not a story worthy of any award, never mind an Oscar. Actually, what I felt I was watching, and people who have seen the movie may agree with me, is perhaps a snapshot into his actual real life – good looking and (seemingly) commitment-phobic – and for me, that was not acting. I felt cheated.
Judging by the mood in the cinemas after the movie had finished, I was not alone.
Our daughters, aged 15 and 17) had lost interest half way through, choosing to talk about my niece’s impending birthday instead. People in front of us shuffled – a lot! And even my sister-in-law and I took to the odd comment here and there, something I would never usually do.
And so it was, I left the cinema having my original view of Mr Clooney remain intact – a man (and actor) not worthy of my hero worship in my twenties and even less so in my forties.
Until next time,