Vulnerable

Sometimes, I feel really vulnerable. Like the world is too much for my emotions to cope with. I often wonder how some people can be so blasé, going about their business mindlessly as we all occupy this sphere spinning relentlessly through a vast expanse of time and space. This was one of the motivators for my alcohol consumption – the desire to quash it all, silence myself, level my feelings off and just stop the urrgghhh that so often blundered around my head.

Then there was the love of euphoria and letting go that made me turn to the bottle. I loved parties, dancing, showing off a bit I suppose. And these are activities that I have found not so easy to engage in as a non-drinker. Which in many ways is a good thing – I am no longer the ‘twat’ that my ex boyfriend decreed me after I’d had too much to drink (“When you drink, it’s as though you’ve swallowed a twat pill”).

I’ve noticed over the sober years that this business of not drinking is a matter of balance, of weighing up the overall good of sobriety versus the occasional letting rip that being pissed affords us. And the thing is, you can’t have both – or at least, I can’t. I can’t have the good without the very bad. There is no middle ground, just chaos and self-destruction.

I occasionally read about people who begin to dabble with having ‘the odd glass’ after years of being sober (Phil Collins being the latest to reveal his abstinence has gradually morphed into ‘controlled’ drinking), and I know that I will never be one of these people – but nor do I want to be.

For me to love being alcohol-free, it is essential that I love not drinking. That I engage with that notion as fully and with as much fervour as I once did alcohol. That I thank my lucky stars every day I scared myself witless one morning after drinking too much and I made a promise to myself that I’d never touch the stuff again; that I get to remember the rest of my life. That I get to make wise decisions and know who I am without the on going fog of too much alcohol confusing my thinking. That, no matter what, I’ll never walk backwards and attempt to revisit the boozing chapter of my life, because for me, this sober reality is the only one that makes sense now.

Last week I got in touch with a woman who lost her best friend to alcohol earlier this year. I studied years-old photos of the two of them in which they are slim, smiling, vibrant, and then I looked at the recent one of the woman’s friend where she is all bloated and puffy, taken just before she died as a direct result of her alcohol consumption.

My past is littered with stories of people who died from their addictions, who lost the most important people in their lives because they couldn’t stop drinking, of broken friendships and damaged souls and sad memories. It’s littered with my own regrets about the things I did because of alcohol, and because of the person I was when I drank.

Sometimes, I do wonder what it would be like to inhabit a drinking world again, one where alcohol is as innocuous as a light, spring breeze. But I know I crossed a line years ago, which means that for me, alcohol will always be my enemy. And I accept that fact with good grace and gratitude because, when all is said and done, it’s not worth it.

I get my kicks elsewhere these days, like this morning when I ran seven miles through the countryside with my dog who is ten years old but still throws herself into our runs with admirable zest. I get a buzz from knowing that I could be dead and for all intents and purposes I probably should be, given the way I used to spend my time, but I am not. I’m fit and healthy and I still feel young. I feel alive when I listen to my favourite music, and when I’m laughing with my close family and friends. I get a rush from the beauty of the world and thinking of all the people I’ve ever known and the amazing things we’ve experienced together, how miraculous it is that any of us get to lead this life with all the opportunities that are presented to each and every one of us. And I’m excited for the present and the future, for what incredible moments are waiting around the corner, none of us can ever know.

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Sometimes I do feel vulnerable and emotionally raw, and I wish so much that I could temporarily escape my head. But what I have – what we all have – is a life, and the years pass by in such a blur that they’re gone before we’ve even registered what happened. Those stupid little things we stress over: our child’s tantrum in the supermarket or feeling down because we can’t afford something we really want, or losing the car keys or just wanting to stay in bed all day because it’s raining and cold outside, and everything seems rubbish and twisted against us; these things are nothing, they matter not one jot.

Connecting with other human beings and loving them, and being loved by them, and loving and valuing yourself for your uniqueness, and witnessing a glorious sunset and hearing the wind roaring in your ears at the top of a mountain; looking into your child’s eyes and knowing that you’re doing your best and they’re doing OK, listening to someone who needs you, knowing that you’re making a difference. Lying on your back daydreaming and listening to your favourite music very loud. Waking up and not needing to patch together last night’s mistakes beneath the weighty dread of a hangover.

I truly believe that you cannot exist as you deserve to, fully and with real love in your heart, when you are drinking too much, too often. I think when you’re addicted to a substance it occupies too much of your soul, it blocks all the important emotions. It prevents you from seeing and connecting.

You need to love yourself before you can live a full life, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who loves themselves when in the throes of alcohol dependency.

It isn’t always easy, being completely free from mind-altering devices, whatever form they may take. There are days when your inner voice is screaming for a brief respite. But there are other coping strategies, there are other means of achieving that escape – and when you quit drinking, you enable yourself to discover them.

The Day Ahead Is Yours

Waking up before anyone else in the house, creeping downstairs in the dark and putting the kettle on, with nothing coming between you and the universe as it stands, free from all the hustle and bustle of our busy lives; the heating kicking into action, in a house that’s otherwise still and silent; no questions or demands to detract from the settled state of mind that emerges after a good night’s sleep.

I’ve always been a morning person. I am at my most productive before lunchtime, when everything around me begins to escalate into a series of necessary chores and duties, each one taking on a life of its own and demanding my full attention. But first thing, as the sun peeps up above the horizon and the early birds begin to chirrup and tweet, that’s my time: calm and serene.

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No calamities or disappointments have occurred as the sky begins to colour, becoming illuminated and alive after hours of darkness. No unexpected tasks have popped up to throw everything out of schedule. No unwanted thoughts and desires that turn our heads into a maelstrom of push and pull, an internal battle of wills that saps all our energy.

And most of all (and this is something that is very real and truly lovely, even after four and a half years of not drinking), the mornings are now fresh and clear instead of being muddied and sullied by the events of the previous night. The previous night, when things would take place that I did not want to take place, when I acted in a way that I would never normally do without alcohol in my system, when I poisoned my insides by drinking enough to pass out or throw up. When all of these things resulted in my first thoughts of the day amounting to how much I hated myself, and how much I hated my life.

These days, the sun comes up, slowly and majestically. And the weather is revealed, the wind or the rain, the leaves scurrying around on the ground and the clouds scudding overhead, racing against one another. Inside my mind it is peaceful. Inside my body I am in tune with the world, instead of fighting against it. The day ahead is mine. I own it. Yesterday hasn’t stained it, predetermined it, cast it in negativity before it even starts. This day is mine, to do with what I will.

Stop Drinking, Start Living

A few things helped me along the path to quitting booze permanently: stubbornness, writing, fear, perseverance and running.

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In addition to these, a true belief in sobriety ensured that I stuck to this way of life through thick and thin, even when I was desperate for a glass (or a couple of bottles, more accurately) of wine. I didn’t give up because fairly early on in my new alcohol-free life I started to believe more in not drinking than I did in drinking.

I wasn’t the sort of person who you’d once have imagined ever believing in not drinking. I was rather proud of my reckless ways, my love of getting smashed via excessive amounts of wine and all the messy things that went along with my boozy lifestyle. I thought people who chose to not drink were either alcoholics or miserable buggers who didn’t know how to have fun – I felt sorry for all of them. What was the point of life without drinking? I seriously felt that way, for twenty long, alcohol-fuelled years.

But stopping drinking felt as though I’d had a pair of heavy-duty blinkers removed, as if I’d been shackled in a cell for years and then suddenly released into daylight and fresh air. Very quickly, I came to realise that many of the things I thought were true about me were, in fact, skewed. I was skewed. I didn’t know who I was, had never become properly acquainted with myself as a result of living in a fog of alcohol. Planning a drink, having a drink, recovering from a drink, beating myself up over things because of drink…my headspace, free of booze, had never been allowed to flourish.

The benefits soon began to outshine the fact that ‘I could no longer drink’. After about a year and a half I had absolutely no desire to drink. I stopped believing in it as a valuable aspect of life. Me, sober, was a much better concept than me pissed. In every capacity – as a parent, a friend, a girlfriend, a worker – I was better without alcohol.

I could not have imagined me as a non-drinker, once upon a time. I would have run screaming to the hills if someone had told me that aged thirty-five, I would never touch a drop of alcohol again. But…I am majorly grateful for the series of events that led to me putting down the bottle in April 2011. I’m grateful that I got the chance to see life as it really is. I’m grateful that I found out I wasn’t a bad person after all. I’m grateful that I got to live a life free from regrets and shame. I’m grateful that I became alcohol-free.

Finding Happy

I would describe myself as a busy person: driven, proactive and slightly obsessive (especially in terms of tidiness). I don’t find it especially easy to relax (hence my erstwhile tendency to down a bottle or two of wine most evenings) and I’m not a great one for indulging in lie-ins, although this is largely due to the fact that I have a three-year-old who leaps out of bed with gusto at approximately 6am most days.

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However, this morning I found myself lying in bed enjoying the rare phenomenon that is a ‘lie-in’, minus the aforementioned toddler leaping on me and thrusting various soft toys in my direction whilst barking instructions like, ‘Put Boris’s dress on!’ and ‘Clopper needs this hairclip on his ear!’ and ‘Put Molly Dolly’s nappy back on!’ – instructions which I dutifully obey as I attempt to awake fully from a deep slumber. A lie-in is a lovely thing, particularly when it is also an infrequent thing. And lying there in my bed, drinking tea and listening to the world gradually coming to life outside, I began to think how important it is to listen to our bodies and minds and to act accordingly, to behave in a way that’s in tune with our physical and mental needs.

As people with busy lives and a ton of responsibility, how many of us successfully manage to demarcate ‘me time’ in order to create a small window of opportunity for recharging our batteries? I am guilty, even when I actually do have free time, of not using that space to relax but instead going for a run or squeezing in a bit of work, or catching up on texts and emails. But this morning as I returned to bed with a cup of tea, I could feel how exhausted I was, how tired my legs were, and I wholeheartedly relinquished any notions of doing anything, choosing instead to do nothing.

I am forty in October of this year and it’s taken me reaching this age to accept when I need to rest, and to get on with doing it, free from any guilt or worry over all the things I should be accomplishing instead. Looking after myself is a by-product of stopping drinking. It’s something I never achieved when I was poisoning myself with alcohol. Lie-ins were for recovering from hangovers and free time was for getting drunk. As a drinker, there was no such thing as relaxation time – just mental obliteration followed by periods of self-induced illness.

Happiness is a holistic concept. It is achieved when we take care of all the aspects of our lives, ensuring we maintain balance wherever possible. In a nutshell, my own happiness stems from an active lifestyle, but one that is countered with adequate rest and good sleep; eating nutritious food; employing gratitude for all the things I have in my life whilst simultaneously not dwelling on what I don’t have; interacting with good friends and family in positive and reciprocal relationships; regarding my alcohol-free stance as one of upmost importance and never wavering from it; doing a job that I love and which gives me huge amounts of satisfaction; learning, finally, to like myself.

I guess what this post is about is emphasising the need for balance – and through not drinking alcohol I find balance easier than ever to achieve. For me, this is the key to staying happy, well and sober.

A Precious Life

Most people won’t recall the first day of primary school. A sea of new faces, new rules, new routines and new information, all racing through the immature brain at a hundred miles an hour, little of it sticking with any permanence – at least not for the first few weeks. Most people won’t remember to whom they spoke on the first day at school; whether it was a child who was to grow into a friend or just one of many faceless classmates who would eventually drift off into the far reaches of the school experience. Perhaps there will be, for some, a glimmer of a memory of a tearful, wretched goodbye to a parent at the school gates, the very first real separation marking the beginning of a series of many.

Most children readily absorb school life; they relish the learning opportunities presented. That first day becomes the first week, and then a month, a year. Our infant education whizzes by and suddenly we are moving rapidly into the junior years and beyond. Friendships are cemented, the shared background of metamorphosis from child to teenager makes for deep bonds, the like of which are rarely repeated in later life. The innocence and freshness of youth sparks dreams of what might be waiting for us around the corner as adults, a place none of us know but most, in their teens, would claim to be familiar with. Clutching at a medley of half-formed views and childish interpretations of the world, we are united in youth by a lack of real life knowledge and, simultaneously, a belief that we are more than capable of going it alone.

I do remember the very first person I spoke to at primary school. Her name was Fiona and she was a one-off; a live wire, filled with intelligence and passion, topped off with an unruly mop of brown curls. We became best friends, and remained so throughout much of primary school. Once in secondary education we slowly disconnected, each of us becoming welded to new groups of friends but always retaining the close, unmistakeable childhood bond we had sealed on our very first day at school all those years earlier.

When she was aged seventeen, Fiona was murdered, very brutally. Her death has haunted me almost every day since I became aware of it, when I recognised her face on the front page of the local paper, a patchy look-alike created by a police artist. It was the week before Christmas, December 18th, in 1993.

Today I went for a run, up through the parks and close to the border of the Peak District. It is twenty-one years exactly since Fiona was killed – years that I have been lucky enough to live, and she has not. As I stopped to take in the view at the top of a hill, I took note of my health, my vitality, my age; that I have made it to thirty-nine, am fortunate enough to have two beautiful daughters, and have friends and family who I love. So many things that have shaped me over the last twenty-one years ran through my mind; the music I have listened to, nights out I’ve had, holidays I’ve enjoyed, sunrises I have witnessed, snow I have played in, seas I have swum in, books I have read, people I have met, films I have seen, laughter I have shared, love I have known, goals I have reached, tears I have cried.

And for a few moments, I categorically understood just how precious this one life is with which we are granted. How fast it goes, how easily it can be snatched away and how, once it has gone, it has done so forever. It’s so important that we make every day count, that we don’t wait until tomorrow before we make the changes that will get things moving in the direction we want. Too many people never have the chance to see their dreams realised – those of us who do should try our very best to make sure they happen.

I have always known that Fiona’s chance to shine was just waiting for her, if only she had made it just that bit further in her life. At eighteen I didn’t fully grasp the monstrosity that her death amounted to, the tragedy that losing someone at such a young age is. As I have grown older, I have felt it acutely, year on year. And the only sense I have come to make of it is that her death should serve as a reminder of what a gift life actually is.

Pause for Breath

We live in an amazing world. Think about it for a moment; in the midst of a massive black space home to many uninhabitable planets, stars and a boiling hot sun, we get to reside on Earth – a beautiful, green and blue sphere filled with amazing animals, interesting insects and us, human beings.

We jump out of bed each day, go through the same rituals and motions, drink coffee, pack the kids off to school, navigate our way through the busy streets to reach our places of work, engage in phatic conversation with colleagues, come home, eat and talk, and then collapse into bed. And how often, in all of that time, do we stop and look around and think ‘OH MY GOD! THIS IS ALL JUST TOTALLY CRAZY AND WONDERFUL’? Probably not very often because if we did, we wouldn’t get much done and everyone would think we’d gone slightly wacko.

But think about it now, for a minute, because it really is.

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We’re so immensely clever, we make things that are beyond incredible – we worked out how to fly out of our atmosphere and into space, and how to send satellites into orbit that take pictures of other planets so we can find out what’s out there. We found bones and old artefacts and put the clues together to work out how people lived thousands of years ago and how we got to be here at all. We’ve developed communication so extensively we can send a message to someone instantly on the other side of the world, engage with millions of people all at once, and watch films on a tiny screen we can hold in our hands.

We’re caring and thoughtful, and have built a society which incorporates all kinds of help and support for those in need. We conquer disease and illness, saving lives every day through unbelievably sophisticated medical techniques. We established how to take blood from one and give it to another to prevent them from dying.

We invented the wheel and bridges, aeroplanes and cars, so we can move about wherever we want to go. We are able to fly to the other side of our planet in less than a day, and travel the length of an entire continent in just a few hours.

We are creative and brilliant and have dreamt up stories and songs capable of completely changing a person’s mood and inspiring them to live differently. We’ve written millions of books, recorded breath-taking music and penned screenplays and scripts that have literally changed mankind. We are leaders and teachers and motivators and doctors and mechanics and builders and engineers and actors and scientists and academics.

We live in a place where the sun rises and sets with a multitude of colours, and where blue-green waters roll in and crash onto white sandy beaches. There are mountains capped with glistening snow that stretch up to the sky. We share our world with the simple wonder of a daffodil and the rarity and beauty of a tiger.

We have each other, our friends and family, the people we can laugh with and who cheer us up, who hold us when we feel alone or sad. Our children show us how to rediscover excitement in the seemingly mundane, and our parents pass on the insight and wisdom that age brings. We form groups who share the same interests, and bond with others over a mutual thought. We fall in love.

And mostly, we let all of this slip by every day while we grumble about our mobile phone being slow to connect to the internet, complain about the traffic jam we are sitting in or because we can’t find a particular ingredient in the supermarket. We fight with people over meaningless nonsense and forget to value ourselves and all that we have. We don’t stop to look around at our planet and history, and at everything we’ve accomplished together as a species.

When you put an end to destructive drinking patterns, life becomes more noticeable. The little things jump out at you, you are awestruck by things you never used to see. But if you don’t pause to take stock occasionally, your time on Earth will fly past you at a hundred miles an hour.

Stop for a minute today and soak up everything that we are. Our world is truly amazing.

When ordinary becomes magic

It’s perhaps something of a cliché to state that the best things in life are free, but it’s true; they really are. What makes certain everyday things suddenly wonderful is a magical combination of factors, impossible to recreate, elusive to the end.

It’s as though the world and everything in it secretly conspire to conjure up the perfect ingredients, quietly and behind closed doors, purely to afford us one instance of wonder in and amongst a melee of ordinariness.

Yesterday was mostly spent in bed, the wind and rain noisily raging against the windows as I snuggled under the duvet with tissues, Lemsip and a pile of books and magazines. Maybe this one day of hibernation was partly behind how appreciative I felt of life in general today; my cold appears to be on its way out and, despite some torrential rain, there were reasonably lengthy periods of sunshine.

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As the baby slept this afternoon I tackled our garden pots, digging out the dead sticks that were once flowers and replacing them with some beautiful blue pansies and miniature narcissus. I haven’t been in the garden for any longer than a minute or two since last summer, usually dashing through with the dog and pram, or clutching the baby’s chubby little hand as I guide her away from puddles and mud. But today as I knelt on the cold ground with my trowel and bag of compost, I felt the cold air on my neck and watched the clouds scudding across a bright sky. For a moment I was utterly at peace, full of joy, and in love with the world.

Later, as I arrived home from an early dinner at a nearby restaurant with my sister, her little boy and my two daughters, I had another perfect moment. We’d had a lovely time, everyone in a good mood and lots of laughter and happiness at just being together. My eldest waited on the pavement as I retrieved the baby from her car seat, and then we saw the bright and shiny moon beaming down on us.

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The baby is mad about the moon. We paused outside our house beneath the black starry sky, and watched her face light up with a huge, completely natural, full-of-wonder smile. Her fingers stretched out to point upwards and the three of us stood for a few seconds, ordinariness becoming magical and a memory being painted in all of our minds.

We often go to great lengths to seek out the exciting, the different and the remarkable, and simultaneously miss out on all the subtle but amazing aspects of life that are all around us and free for the taking. Frequently caught up with anxieties over irrelevant and unimportant issues, we too easily forget to notice the present, thus missing out on the little gems of perfection scattered all around us.

Today I got two, and feel very lucky indeed.

Happy to be a Non-Drinker

When I first decided to stop drinking alcohol, the idea that I would spend the rest of my life feeling miserable as a consequence and as though I was missing out on something was never an issue I paid much credence to.

Living by a self-imposed regime of teetotalism when my heart was still firmly attached to the bottle and yet consistently denied its effects was a prospect too miserable to contemplate.  My attitude towards becoming a non-drinker was bloody-minded, and I have remained determined to always continue to seek out the numerous positives to be found in living free from the alcohol trap.

With this mind-set which has now become an inherent part of who I am, I am forever mindful of so many seemingly insignificant events and occurrences that happen each day which I am fully aware would never happen should I choose to drink again.

Yesterday as I pushed the pram up an almighty hill, hot and tired and feeling the strain in my calves, I suddenly remembered the horrific physical state of being hungover – queasy, sweaty, with stinging eyes and clammy skin, dehydrated, and exhausted in a way that never hits me as a non-drinker despite being up and dressed by 6am most days. And no matter how difficult that hill was to climb, I just kept on thinking about how awful I used to feel on an almost daily basis – even when simply sitting in front of the TV, never mind pushing a toddler up a steep hill in the sweltering heat.

thCAWWIG85Last night I poked my head out of our Velux bedroom window shortly before I climbed into bed, and stared for a while at a beautiful yellow moon hanging low in the sky. How many moons I wondered, had I missed as a drinker when night after night I would either fall asleep on the settee not even making it upstairs to bed, or was so drunk that I couldn’t remember what I’d seen the following morning?

Waking each day and acknowledging the marvel of a fully-functioning memory, feeling no regret or anxiety and with nobody to apologise to for my stupid drunken behaviour of the previous evening, is something I don’t think I will ever take for granted. I feel so lucky to be present and to notice all the important things around me, and to be completely in charge of my life and who I am.

For me, maintaining a commitment to sobriety is much less about steely willpower, and more about bathing in the beauty of a life lived untainted by alcohol. I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

Lifesaver

The sun comes up, the traffic begins to build as workers set out for the day, I put on my trainers and lead the dog out onto the pavement for our morning run. It’s just another day. There is a chill in the air but the icy breath of winter has been superseded by a more tolerable spring breeze. Buses roll past me, undertaking the static cars powerless to move faster in the morning rush hour jam. It’s just another day.

Back at the house I check my phone and notice the date, 26th April. It’s a friend’s birthday.

He’s much more than a friend actually. He’s my lifesaver.

Approximately 725 days ago the friend who’s birthday it is found me unconscious in the dark, alone and drunk and vomiting. He called an ambulance, rode in it with me, sat by my bedside for hours in the stark glare of the hospital ward, told me it was ok when I woke up, looked at me with sadness, held my hand, helped me discharge myself and took me home in a taxi. He put me to bed, made me a cup of tea, told me it would be ok, told me I would be ok, didn’t leave until I had stopped crying.

I never really thought I had been within touching distance of my own death until that morning. The weeks that followed were the darkest I’ve ever known. But eventually the sun came out again, and I moved forward.

The friend who saved my life gave me so much to be grateful for; the chance to live free of the shackles of alcohol, room to grow as a person, all the days I’ve spent since with my two children, fiancé and my family, a deep appreciation of everything I have in my life, my health and happiness, a real awareness of the fragility of life and with that, a passion for so much that the world has to offer, developing a realisation of the things that matter, and the things that don’t, my future hopes and dreams, becoming who I was meant to be, my life.

I sent him a text. It read ‘Happy birthday Lifesaver. Lots of love, always.’ And I meant it.

Sliding Doors

Do you ever wonder where your life may have taken you, had you made different decisions? For me, a large element of learning to let go of my past mistakes has been the understanding and acceptance of who I am today, and how all the choices I have made on my journey to this point have amalgamated to create who I have become.

I have had relationships which would, I’m sure, have taken me to very different places had I remained in them; the boyfriend who I moved to London to live with in my early twenties was an ardent socialite, a lover of debauchery, and not someone who I could imagine I would ever have become sober whilst involved with. My ex-husband, the workaholic, who I erroneously believed to be the love of my life prior to him walking out and leaving me with a broken leg, crutches, our four-year-old daughter and a mad puppy on Valentine’s Day 2003, would only have stunted my emotional and personal development had we remained married, and I am eternally grateful that he left me as he did.

The years that followed his leaving were admittedly awful, the wine drunk far too vast in quantity, but the ensuing depression and dark days were, I believe, all vital ingredients in building my emotional strength and character. If he had stayed, I am certain that I would never have grown as a person, would never have fought and beaten my demons, and ultimately, never have drunk so much that I then considered it absolutely essential that I conquer my alcohol dependency.

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In the years that followed my divorce, I had relationships with a few men, all of whom were lovely in their own way but none of whom would have helped me find the road to sobriety, self-discovery and finally, learning to like myself. They were all heavy drinkers, and despite their collective disapproval of the multifarious displays of my terrible drunken behaviour, none were brave enough to take on the dragon that was Lucy’s beloved bottle of wine. Had I stayed with any one of those partners, I probably would have drunk myself into an early grave.

In the midst of all that pin-balling from one bad relationship to another, the mornings of self-hatred that evolved into afternoons in the pub and evenings of comatose drunkenness, arguments and hour upon hour of wasted life, the smallest desire to escape my situation began to gain momentum. So insignificant that I didn’t even know it was there for a long time, the seed that grew into a very real knowledge that I must stop drinking took years to establish itself. The boyfriends who were a mistake, the under-achieving at work due to constant hangovers, the inability to move forward in my life and the associated frustrations that arose as a result, gradually amassed to provide the food and water required to nurture my growing awareness.

And one day, there it was – it turns out that all those bad choices were not so bad after all, because in the small hours of a Thursday morning almost two years ago, I woke up and realised that the seed had become a tree. All of a sudden, I recognised how I should be spending my life, and I began to live it. If none of my bad times had happened, if the years of pain and grimness had been erased and left me with nothing but an easy ride, I wouldn’t be here, doing this. No contentment, no new baby, no self-esteem, no Soberistas, no gratitude for my life.

There will always be sunshine after the rain.