Does it sound evangelical to say that I felt complete joy and happiness last night, as I pushed the baby’s pram up a steep hill in the driving rain, no hood or hat protecting my head from the downfall and howling gales, and the baby unable to see me or anything else owing to her rain cover being totally misted up with condensation? If I’m honest, I did feel a momentary pang of ‘urrghh this is utterly horrible and miserable and I want to be at home in dry clothes, under a blanket in front of the TV.’ But only for a minute, and then I reminded myself that I am living and this is what life is about sometimes; taking the dog for a walk in cold, wet weather in the dark.
Everyone tells you that alcohol is a depressant, and you know it’s true but somehow it’s easy to push that to one side and imagine that your lack of real happiness stems from life just being a bit rubbish.
When you stop drinking alcohol for good, you can experience something akin to an evangelical awakening – moments of happiness that border on delirium, as you realise that you are alive, and lucky for all that you have, and that you’ve survived stuff and emerged out the other side strong and full of vigour.
I feel joy at seeing the sunrise, listening to the baby wake up, gurgling and burbling to herself in her cot, hearing a song that I love, going for a good run and knowing that I am growing in strength and stamina, having a coffee and a chat with a friend, cooking a new recipe and eating the results.
I am happy nearly every day, at least for most of every day. I do get a bit grumpy or tired, occasionally a little stressed if I’m having a particularly busy and fraught day, but that’s just the normal human experience – I would be a robot if I never felt those things. Generally though, I am on an even keel and happiness is the mainstay of my emotions.
I know that’s because I don’t drink alcohol. It’s as simple as that. Drinking turned me against myself and created an internal battle of depression, anxiety and self-pity versus normality. Giving it up has allowed the real me to emerge, and the real me is happy and optimistic, calm and centred, full of creativity and determination and passion.
I am eternally grateful that I gave myself the chance to discover who I really am.