100 Days Without Booze: Examining the Drunken Split-Screen
When I wrote this post last week it was day 77 of the Sober Challenge. That does sound like I am blowing my own trumpet...But I literally had to go over to my calendar just now to count and find out what day I was on before writing this. I am certainly not ticking off the days until my next drink. I am not a prisoner of my own sobriety. Quite the opposite; I feel liberated. This just feels like my life now and, despite the ups and downs of reality, it is a better life.
I get up and get going earlier. I accomplish far more in my days than when I had a hangovers (or even second day hangovers!). I have just had ten days off for my half term. As well as resting a bit I have caught up with old friends, taken my elderly granny out for the afternoon in the autumnal sunshine. I have secured and completed two fantastic days of work experience in an area of work I want to get into. I have made contacts in this industry and got invaluable advice. I have achieved one of my goals for this year of singing in an open mic night with my friend Max (the first of many I hope), which went down really well. And I did it without the aid of “Dutch Courage”! I have completed school work and marking. And I trekked across London to an evening of interesting lectures on alternative culture (definitely something I would have bailed on if I had a hangover!)
Bit by bit, month by month, I am paying off my credit card. I have a maximum of two months to go before it is clear. Then I am HIDING it and I will begin to save money. Normally I am spanking money on my credit card, paying for holidays, clothes, food..anything I can’t afford at the end of the month because I have overspent, mainly on alcohol and going out. In addition, I am not spending money impulsively like I used to..buying a takeaway when hungover and too buggered to shop and cook, or buying clothes online to cheer myself because I am blue due to lack of serotonin. Something nice I have observed in myself recently is that, if I have any spare money, I am actually want to spend it on my loved ones first before buying myself anything. Is it possible that kindness is a byproduct of sobriety?!
Drunk split screen
Something I like to do to spur myself on with the no-drinking is to imagine a split screen which shows what my night, or week, would have been like if I was drinking alcohol. Normally, when I reach a half term, I am pretty burnt out, emotional and usually pissed off about one thing or another. I tend to have at least one big, blow out night out which, more often that not, turns a bit messy. I then tend to spend several days feeling hungover, beating myself up for feeling hungover and achieving very little. My week off then feels shorter and I go back to work feeling unfulfilled and uninspired.
One night this week my husband was convinced I would slip up and drink. We had some rather unsettling news. At the moment we are both desperately seeking some permanency and security in our lives so that we can move our lives forward. The unexpected news that we got brought with it more uncertainty and uprooting. I felt incredibly pissed off with everybody, despairing and resigned to the fact that my life is just shit and I am ill fated and will never achieve my life goals, which seem to come so easily to others.
This is when, usually, my “fuck it” impulse tends to come in and I go to the pub or reach for the nearest liquor and drink, playing the dramatic role of a woman with nothing to lose. By drinking in this state, I usually end up completely out of control and angry drunk, which leads to having vicious rows with my husband.
I then wake up the next day and it takes me several moments to realise that my husband is sleeping on the sofa and won’t speak to me and I don’t remember going to bed or what I have said or done to make my husband so angry with me. This then leads to several days of piecing together my body and soul, whilst dealing with the Cold War that is my relationship. It feels like the end of the world, apocalyptic and any mundane task, like buying milk or walking the dog, feels huge and unmanageable. It takes several days to a week for some semblance of normality to return to our household and for us to get over the drunken argument that we had no control over anyway, because the Booze Beast was in the driving seat.
As it was, yes I was pissed off, but I still didn’t drink. I watched a film and went to bed. My husband and I were slightly upset the next day but we found a way to talk about the problem and try and spin it into a positive and discuss our options. We then went out and forgot about it and had a brilliant night out. We took it in turns to watch each other singing on stage and I remembered why I love him so very much and realised that, whatever happens, wherever we end up, he is my partner and my friend and I would be lost without him. And that is more important than bricks and mortar, and coins and paper, and hitting life landmarks when other people expect us to. We may not be winning the Game of Life in other people’s eyes but I am trying to enjoy the journey, and I am grateful to have him by my side.
As my Headspace app reminded me, nothing stays the same forever. And I, for one, am going to take comfort in that fact.