Today I broke my own rule and weighed myself five days ahead of my planned weigh-in day. I am one pound less than I was yesterday, when I also broke my once-a-week-weigh-in rule, stepping on the scales six days too soon. Before I got pregnant a year ago, I was 134 pounds; currently I am 148 pounds, so a stone to lose. To add insult to injury, I tried on my bikinis last night, in order to ascertain whether new ones should be bought prior to our holiday to Mallorca in two and a half weeks time. Yes, the answer is yes, they most definitely should.
This morning, as I dressed in the only pair of trousers I own that fit comfortably (elasticated waist, stretch denim fabric that squeezes the flesh a little, magically giving the appearance of slimmer legs) and a baggy top that doesn’t cling to the spare tyre around my middle, my beautiful and slim thirteen-year-old daughter wafted into the bedroom and asked ‘Mum, can I have that Smiths T-shirt that you never wear anymore please?’ Of course she could have it – no point clinging on to something that would barely conceal even one of my enormous, breastfeeding boobs. She takes it, returning presently, wearing the T-shirt and looking stylish and young in it. I focus my mind on planning a low-fat day; bananas, yoghurt, no bread, skip the lattes and cakes.
I last wore that T-shirt in April last year, when I was newly sober. I hadn’t been out of the house for weeks, consumed as I was by shame and self-hatred owing to the fact that on a particular night in February, I drank so much wine that I collapsed on the pavement outside my house and was taken to hospital by a passing acquaintance. That night, as they say, was my rock bottom. In mid-April, my boyfriend put on a Smiths night at his local pub and I felt as though I should show my face by way of support. I had a fringe cut in to my hair in an effort to alter myself, and I wore the Smiths T-shirt. It was tight even then, and I felt conspicuous, regretful of my new haircut as I walked in to the pub, meeting many of his friends for the first time. I was the only non-drinker in the room, clutching my mineral water, terrified and uncertain of how I should behave, now that I no longer had wine to pour down my neck.
As the night wore on, the drunken behaviours came to the fore. I retreated in to the dark corners of the room, hoping nobody would speak to me and wishing time would hurry along. When things wound to a close, I raced to the car and drove us home, replacing that T-shirt with pyjamas, the instant I reached the sanctuary of my bedroom.
Not long after that night I got pregnant, and so, for the last twelve months I have had the perfect excuse for being on the wagon. However, in a few weeks time I will no longer be breastfeeding my baby, I will shrink a little in the breast department, the weight will continue to fall off – I will be back to where I was last April, sober simply because I have chosen to be that way, rather than nature dictating my lifestyle. Will I be that person again, the one in the corner wearing the slightly too-tight Smiths T-shirt and hoping against hope that nobody talks to her, that no one asks her why she isn’t having a proper drink? I like to think not – that a year’s passing has equipped me with a few good reasons as to why I now choose to live life without alcohol propping me up, why my focus has necessarily shifted from a selfish pursuit of getting wasted, to the happiness and wellbeing of my family and friends and my self. In April last year, I was emerging from two decades of hiding behind a large glass of white wine, attempting to relocate a personality that wasn’t moulded by alcohol. Now, August 2012, I am a mother again, I am enjoying being alive, I have (almost) eradicated the shame that lingered after years of self-abuse. Today I feel like a proper human being, and it’s great.