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Yesterday I went to my local town street festival with my husband, Mr. 5 and Miss Nearly 3. I anticipated a bit of FOMO, on account of the street festival street-drinking. A day when drinking in the high street is deemed socially acceptable, with local rock bands playing? “COOL!”, a little part of me still thinks.
At 13 months sober, I am entering the zone of the Second Times. Second sober boozy streetfest. Second sober start of summer BBQs. Second sober summer holiday. It’s obvious, but I’ll say it: second times are easier. Fact.
Do you know what was hard? Not Christmas at 8 months sober, although I’m not saying it was easy. No. – first sober JANUARY AND FEBRUARY. Fuccccck. That caught me off guard. I was 8-10 months sober then, and I’d been on a self-righteous high from my lovely first dry Xmas and New Year. Published a dramatic “coming out” post on Christmas Eve (The Silence of the Drinkers), off the back of which I did a local radio interview and national magazine interview about addiction and sobriety. Read: NO GOING BACK (it’s one thing to have a secret drinking problem. It’s another to tell the world about your recovery, then to start drinking again). Going public about recovery is the ultimate insurance against relapse- for me, at least. I care too much what people think of me to drink ever again now. But, I realised, first sober January and February was even harder than the party season. Why? Because January and February are grey and boring! I used to just keep the party season going.
So, tomorrow is my SECOND sober DOUBLE children’s birthday party: the Decade Twins AKA Mr Nearly 13 and Miss Nearly 3. Yep, they are turning (you guessed it, Einstein) 13 and 3.
A third birthday is big. It’s the first year the child has serious expectations of their big day. So even though it’s my second sober double birthday, I’m still having a big “why the fuck did these children have to fall out of my vagina on the exact same date 10 years apart” freak out. It’s like they are May flies, hatching out on a specific day of the season (they were both due in May but were 8 days late).
Last year we just tagged Miss 2’s birthday party onto Mr 12’s. This year it’s more the other way round, with him having a smaller gathering with some friends at the cinema next weekend.
So I am sat here, catching myself heaping pressure on myself to make it all perfect and lovely and I’m so freaked out about whether the parents of Miss 3’s best friend who we don’t know that well might judge our messy and very non-show-homey house and the mould on our bathroom ceiling and the clutter everywhere (their house is perfect and huge and in the rich part of town). Then I ruminate further about the fact that all my friends have perfect huge houses in the rich part of town and I think how I’m failing at my life and fear I’m letting my family down by being neither a perfect housewife OR a high-flying career woman…. just a part time music teacher who is disorganised at both work and home.
What a pile of shit!
This is the truth: black-and-white thinking can go fuck itself. Comparing myself to others can go fuck itself. The truth is also this: although my bathroom ceiling is mouldy and my house is messy, I live a life of relative privilege and ease. I never have to worry about my children going hungry. They always have an (albeit slightly mouldy) roof above their heads. They have piano lessons and trumpet lessons and theatre trips.
But – most importantly – they have me. Sober. Emotionally available. Dependable.
I’m doing my best here.
I’m 13 months sober and I won’t drink today. I won’t drink tomorrow. Even though my children’s parties are my worst stress trigger.
I’ll be sober and I won’t make a dick of myself and I’ll remember it all – every last precious sober moment.