Robert the Geranium Plant

I am not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination. At the tender age of fourteen, I was told by my physics teacher that I would never get anywhere in life because I didn’t know how a radiator worked. And that Robert, a geranium plant which sat on the classroom windowsill, had more brain cells than me. Me thinks a man who names his geranium plant Robert deserves no credence, but hey, I digress. I do, however, have a theory regarding the way that alcohol prevents people from reaching emotional maturity, should they do as I did and consume vast amounts of the stuff from my mid teens onwards.

I have grown up more in the last eighteen months since becoming teetotal than I did in all the years prior to that turning point. When I cast an eye back to my booze-obsessed self, I see someone who prioritised alcohol above everything else, including, I am ashamed to say, my oldest daughter, and whose main aim in absolutely every endeavour I engaged in, was to get pissed. Sister’s wedding; get hammered. Friend’s 40th birthday party; get wasted. New Year’s Eve party with the kids; get the little ones in bed asap and then hit the wine, big time. All that drinking left me with very little time to grow as a person, and now that I have been sober for a year and a half, I am all too aware of the fact that I didn’t mature emotionally until very recently.

Since giving up alcohol, I think more about how others feel. I consider how my actions will affect them, and then I adjust my behaviour accordingly in order to make their lives better. Now, I realise that this sounds like pretty fundamental stuff, but my emotional development froze somewhere around the arsey, self-obsessed fifteen year old girl stage, when my only concerns in life were which boy I fancied/ fancied me, Morrissey, smoking Marlboro reds and getting pissed at the weekend when my mum and dad thought I was at the cinema. From that point onwards, I placed drinking ahead of everything and everyone. I never dealt with heartache or regret, as I chose instead to smother it with the analgesic quality of booze, I never really experienced true happiness because I was always pie-eyed whenever I was (supposedly) having a good time, and I never knew what a nice feeling could be achieved through truly loving others and committing a selfless act because you place someone else’s happiness above your own.

Not only was I emotionally unavailable to everyone in my life, I was a grumpy bugger too. Being hungover most days and surviving on poor quality sleep, together with having chronically low self esteem as a result of all the awful, stupid things I used to do when I was drunk, meant that I snapped at the most innocent of comments and was generally not very nice to be around.

I wish I could turn the clock back and be a better Mum to my oldest daughter during her younger years, but all I can do now is plough my efforts into being the best I can for her and her new little sister, now and in the future. It’s so much nicer going to bed at night when you are proud of what you have achieved that day, instead of beating yourself up because of the never ending shit that you inflict on the people who love you. My physics teacher was wrong for saying that I would never get anywhere in life; I just took a while getting there.

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