Yesterday was my 6 month anniversary. If someone had told me a couple of years ago they had gone 6 months not drinking I would have thought they were set, that it was all clear sailing from then on. However, from going 5 months last year and then slipping up I know there is no such thing as set. I guess it makes sense, when you’ve been drinking for nearly 20 years, consistently binge drinking on the reg for most of that, it’s going to take a bit more than 6 months to make you feel safe in your position of sobriety. Perhaps you never really will feel one hundred percent safe in this knowledge either. Maybe the possibility of slipping up will remain in your mind forever, like a benign tumour that could rupture at any time, no matter how long you haven’t boozed on.
That makes it sound ominous and depressing, like it’s a permanent rain cloud following you around, always ready to ruin your suede shoes or your freshly blow dried hair, but I like to think of it more like I’m a superhero, and alcohol is my kryptonite. How lucky is it my kryptonite is something that is bad for me in all ways, and makes my life drab and colourless? I mean, what if it was something I actually really loved, like my mum, or pizza? Anyway, knowing your kryptonite is easy, it’s honing in on your super powers and believing in them that is the hard part.
During the last six months I have had my share of Lurker Moments. Lurker Moments are what happens when you are moseying around, minding your own business, and suddenly your senses are ignited by a feeling or a visual or a smell, and the urge to have a drink is overwhelming. It’s a whole body sensation and it feels a little like you can’t breathe. Like a small implosion has taken place in your chest cavity. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s a shock.
I was sitting at my desk at work on a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, and it felt like the whole office was in party mode. There was even people walking around with trays of vodka jelly shots. Sometimes Friday afternoons can get pretty loose at the company I work for. I wasn’t really even paying attention but at one point I looked up from my still escalating emails, and I saw a group of women in the department next to mine standing around a bar table, cracking a bottle of bubbles, hands clasped around glasses poised ready for the fizzy liquid to flow down. At that moment I felt a sense of longing deep into my soul. For a minute I allowed myself to dance with the possibility but then I let it pirouette away.
I can only assume these feelings will decrease over time, possibly disappearing forever eventually, but maybe they won’t, and I’ve simply got to be okay with that. It might take some strategizing, like my own personal self-help guide: How to Deal with the Lurker Within. Perhaps I’ll include some visualization exercises in it:
Imagine your lurker. Do you see him? What does he look like?
-He’s a shadowy figure in a fedora and a trench coat, and he smokes Marlboro Lights.
Now, I want you to imagine walking up to him and telling him to stop following you. Tell him you are too strong for him. Is he listening?
He replied that he will always be with me, no matter where I go
Jesus, for fuck’s sake, kick him in the balls and let’s get out of here. Can’t spend all day talking to nutty stalkers. And tell him smoking makes his breath smell, the ninny.
At 6 months it still feels fresh, the memory of drinking. I can still imagine so vividly the intoxicating feeling of drinking rosé on my balcony at the end of a bad day. That’s another element of your life that changes quite dramatically in sobriety: the scale of a ‘bad day’. Whilst drinking, a ‘bad day’/excuse to drink would have included anything as inconsequential as a boring day, or dealing with a work related issue which was a bit draining. Now these sit in the realm of a ‘normal day’, and it takes a lot more for me to consider it a ‘bad day’.
However, I did have an actual bad day last week; work was stressful and I had personal situation I was dealing with, and I came home and said to my partner, ‘if there was any day when I really felt like a drink…’. Instead he suggested we get apple crumble and ice cream, and I appreciated this more than ever, and felt grateful my partner was such a bloody good egg. Having a good egg/considerate and kind partner or friend or parent is definitely beneficial to maintaining sobriety. We all need someone in our corner.
Possibly there’s always going to be Lurker Moments. And there’s definitely going to be times of stress and unhappiness in life. That’s life. It’s unexpected and bloody scary but also wonderous and finite, and during the last 6 months I have learnt maintaining the mental and physical health and wellbeing obtained from not boozing always outweighs those small moments in time when life seems overwhelming.
Here’s to a multitude of future soberversaries for me, and everyone that wants that in their lives!
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