(I think people who wear glasses are serious and have authority. Been like that since my college days.)
Anyways, when I first approached her, I knew I desperately needed a new friend. None of my old connections are helping. Of course, I asked her if I could connect with her through social media first. (This is how you do new friendships in 2019.)
The day after the meeting, I followed her on Instagram. We became Facebook friends and chatted away on Messenger for a few days.
Like sober mum Clare Pooley (who I look up to), I am a sober mum trying to get a grip on my life and my relationships.
My husband and I are okay. We don’t argue (too much), but he has given me an urgent warning to sober up…or, “I don’t know what next,” he says.
We certainly aren’t talking about separation, or, gulp, divorce, though. We are at this point when the kids are young, but not too young (Harold is ten, and Ella is eight). I don’t really think he wants to break up with me, he just wants me to be better. Sober, better.
I am at this point in my life where I am fed up with my disease. It took many years away from me. I’ve acknowledged how it took control of my life, and I am already moving on.
In the early days of my sobriety I was in total denial. You heard a lot of, “NO. I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ALCOHOL” from me.
Right now, I am quite sober. I am actively recovering, but I am not perfect, and I will never be.
I am past the stage of self-pity and blaming my father for all the stress he caused me.
I am past that stage of blaming him for making me a drunk. I looked into various options for mutual aid in alcohol recovery.
I have attended three months worth of SMART Recovery meetings, and I am already in this state when… I don’t drink. Period.
SMART teaches us not to dwell on the past—you can’t change it. Instead, focus on the present and the future So, here am I.
Yesterday, I was out shopping with Robyn (my husband) and the kids. They were in the toy store (where else?) I went inside Marks and Spencer. I proceeded to go to the Wine section. I looked. Yes, I looked. I caressed the bottles. I reminisced. I fantasized.
Being in active recovery does not mean you don’t fantasize.
For a while there, I was going, “Gold Label Malbec, La Fortezza, Merlot Contino Rioja…talk to me.”
Then I stepped out of the store. I rubbed my eyes.
I don’t want this. Drinking makes me sick. I don’t want this. But it’s as if I was under a spell. I was in a moony-glassy-eyed state.
Wine, wine, wine wine. I wanted to buy. I wanted to taste that old taste of oblivion. I wanted my old, familiar friend.
Then it hit me. Friend.
Drinking makes me sick, Drinking makes me sick, Drinking makes me sick.
STOP. Stop it, Giselle, you need help.
I can’t do this by myself.
Get the phone. Dial.
No, text, she might be busy.
“Hello Tanya. How was your PT (physical therapy) session? Hope it was ok. If you’re not busy, I need a friend right now. Hugs.”
I put down phone.
Moments later, she texts back.
“Sure, hon. Give me a buzz.”
I call. And all is better.
I read somewhere that something happens to the brains of people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. There is a sort or irreversible damage—even if they want to quit, their brain circuits have been changed and they can’t do it. I mean, they can, but they are fighting against the grain. It’s like their brains got short-circuited or something, and they need intervention to get it wired right again.
Case in point. Me, yours truly, Giselle M. Forty-five years of age, mum of two kids, married, trying-to-be Sober Mum.
In recovery circles, they hammer it over and over your head that “the opposite of addiction is connection.” It’s my mantra now, actually.
Tanya has been my friend for only those three months I’ve been trying to get sober. But she understands what I am going through. She does not judge, and she isn’t perfect too. She’s not my mentor or sponsor (we don’t have sponsors in SMART recovery).
In a simple way, she is truly just a concerned, overworked mum who gives a sh*t about me. Somebody who cares about my well-being apart from my sister, brother, husband, and to some degree, my colleagues.
The good thing about Tanya is, she does not see me as an alcoholic, she sees me as a struggling mum. Just like her.
Tanya has one kid, Meghan. She’s a teen. Tanya’s husband is ok, but he’s the typical bloke who doesn’t like talking about emotions and stuff-like-that-for-girls. The reason why Tanya like me so much is because we have so much in common. Like me, she’s a drunk (laugh), gets moony-eyed over wines in Marks and Spenser, and we’re both (a bit) dissatisfied with our husbands.
Unashamedly, I could say a lot of our initial conversations were husband-bashing sessions (more laughs).
Seriously, we do talk a lot about our children like good mums do.
And also, yes, recovery. Alcohol recovery.
So after that call yesterday, I was able to recover. I got my wits together. I was outside the store display when my kids and husband found me. Robyn didn’t even know what happened. Harold was pestering me to buy him a new Takara 4D (whatever the hell that was) for his Beyblade competition. And Ella wanted “Pink!” Ice cream. (Understand that it has to be pink.)
Childcare is so demanding. No wonder, I need to take the edge off.
Malbec is not the solution, Giselle, girl.
Call your girl-friend. If you mope about this with Robyn you will just get a dressing down.
Last week, our facilitator opened up the topic about asking “Why do people drink?” It boils down to four factors, really.
1. Past Experience
2. Impulsive Personality
This lesson made me think deep and hard. This was how I analysed it. Hmmm.
1. Past experience – I loved drinking. It made me feel good. (Until it did not make me feel good.)
2. Impulsive Personality – Am I impulsive? Well, yes I am. I can’t count how many choices I’ve made (and I am still making) without thinking the consequences through
3. Stress – Okay. So when I’m stressed I looked forward to wine later on. It was my number one stress reliever.
4. Environment – Mum, dad and my sister drank (they are not alcoholics, it was just a normal thing at home.
My friends at work drink socially, they are all normal (as far as I know…but you can’t tell, can’t you?). One is in a UK addiction treatment clinic.
So, logical person that I am, if I have to stop drinking, I need to address these motivational issues. I’ve already begun with number one, so the rest should be easy.
1. Past experience – drinking made feel good. It doesn’t now. I can get past this motivation.
2. Impulsive Personality – I am impulsive, but I can be less impulsive. A tad less impulsive. Well, I walked into Marks and Spencer’s wine section, didn’t I? That was impulsive. But I put on the breaks. I didn’t buy. I ogled and caressed a few bottles and looked like a total weirdo, but I did not buy. I guess I have to respect this part of me.
Impulsive – nay. I am spontaneous. From now on, I can say that. “Giselle is spontaneous. But responsibly spontaneous.”
3. Stress – Parenting is stressful! But there is another way to get relief. I am just three months in, in terms of the recovery process. Give me some credit! For now, I will hold on to this: (Tanya’s advice).