I’m sat in my kitchen enjoying a well-deserved cup of Yorkshire tea – observing my very clean kitchen-diner.
I’ve spent the last two hours wiping the chocolate fingerprints of four year olds off the glass of my rather large French windows. I’ve removed crushed up Cheesy Wotsits from down the back of my sofa, gathered endless pink scraps of paper that earlier this afternoon were abruptly torn from the pass-the-parcel by a gaggle of fervent four year olds.
I’ve picked trodden-in pink, sparkly princess castle birthday cake (pictured above – amazing what one can do with a few ice cream cones) from out of the living room rug, scrubbed dried piss from the base on the downstairs loo, cleaned the worktops, mopped the floors and filled and emptied the bleeding dishwasher what feels like fourteen fucking times since noon.
It’s 9.30pm on Saturday night. 19th May 2018.
Quite a significant day – not only is today the day that Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, it’s also the day that I threw Ferne’s 4th birthday party. Single-handedly. Yes, that’s right – Mr T has fucked off to Amsterdam on a stag do and left me to cater for 15 rather boisterous four year olds and all that comes with throwing a princess-themed pink party at home. Alone.
I’m my own worst enemy, I’ll admit. Every year I say ‘never ever ever again will I throw a fucking party at home’ and every spring I find myself planning the next one.
Why? Well because where else can one throw a kid’s party and get wankered on Prosecco?
At one’s home it’s allowed. And when you throw your kid’s party at home, you can crack open the first bottle as soon as the clock strikes noon – what else is going to get you through the monotonous undertaking of chopping crusts off two loaves of Warburtons and sticking cubes of cheese and mini pickled onions on cocktail sticks before stabbing the sticks into a foil-covered spud with a four year old tugging on your trouser leg begging you to allow her to tuck into the plate of perfectly arranged butterfly-buns long before the party starts. You repeat the word no, over and over, louder and louder. Until you give in.
Exactly a year ago to today – on 18th May 2017 at 3pm – I opened the door to Ferne’s party guests. I was shitfaced of fizz and the party hadn’t even started.
Of course a lot of the kids that were invited, were so because I was, and still am, good friends with their mummies – like-minded ladies who love nothing more than a few glasses of Prosecco. Or wine. Or Gin & Tonic. Or a cocktail. Only they know when to stop and don’t pass out.
And then there are the mummies who you might have said hi to in pre-school playground, but that’s about it.
When you open the door to them you try desperately to keep your shit together. You want to give the impression that you are perfectly capable of entertaining, but more importantly, looking after their three year old daughter for the next two hours. They choose to hang around, naturally, their kid is three, not thirteen. So you tone it down for 20 minutes before cracking another bottle open and shoving a glass of the stuff in their hand.
My last memory of that particular party was playing musical chairs. Apparently, I then proceeded to lay across three of the chairs and fall asleep. Meanwhile, Mr T wrapped the party up, saw our guests on their way, spent a good three hours deep-cleaning the kitchen – which involved mopping and hovering around me as I laid across the chairs – eventually, after he had bathed the kids and put them to bed, he managed to get me up the stairs too.
Today I have savoured every moment of the craziness. I has basked in the joys of sober chats with mummies who I have met properly for the first time.
I have listened, rather than monopolised conversations, which is something I tend to do when I’m drinking.
I have danced like a mummy should dance at her four year old’s party – refraining from getting on the dining table and attempting to twerk (yes this is something I have done in the presence of my children, their friends, and their parents, most recently at our annual Bonfire night event).
I have actually waved Ferne’s guests and their mummies goodbye and wished them farewell hours and hours after the day of party prep started.
And most importantly, I have felt comfortable in my own skin all day long.
Because when you’re sober, you don’t have to fret about trying to act sober. You don’t have to worry about your portrayal of a decent respectable parent and nor do you have to worry about saying something you’ll regret (if you remember) in the morning.
Your mind is clear so you absorb the discussions you have – rather than forgetting about them all together. And you go to sleep at night knowing that your children have had the most wonderful day and you remember every single detail, and you go to bed at peace – after all, there will be no morning-after-the-day-before beer fear.
As I kick off week three of sobriety, I can honestly say that, even on a day like today, when the entire world seems to be clinking glasses of fizz in honour of the marriage of a prince and a princess, I have not, for the most part, felt the need to fill my glass with something other than the Elderflower Fizz, or better still, the M&S Lemon, Lime and Mint Fizz with a slice of cucumber, served over ice and a slice in wine glass.
I sat on the toilet earlier and my alter-ego goaded me a little – ‘go on, you know you would love to knock back a cold glass of that Prosecco in the fridge right now’. But then the angel in me questioned me – ‘why? – What do you get from the Processo that you don’t get from the Elderflower Fizz other than a hangover tomorrow morning? ‘
For last fortnight I have started to analyze why I drink, and what triggers my choice of drink.
Is that pint of cold San Miguel straight from the pump in my local any more thirst-quenching and refreshing that a cold pint of Britvic Orange and soda on a hot summer’s day?
The answer is no.
The reason I choose the beer is because a) it’s socially expected to opt for the booze when everyone else is ordering it. b) Because it’s habit. c) Because I have more fun / am more fun when I’m drinking alcohol. d) Because I want to get shitfaced.
Now that I’ve started to think about the answers to these questions when I’m in situations whereby I want a drink, or I’m with people who are drinking, I’m starting to be able to have a little more control over my desire to have a drink.
Let’s get real here – it’s very early days. I got through Sober October, which was a longer sober stint that this one so far, but the difference was, Sober October was a 31 day countdown to my next drink. It wasn’t a lifestyle change. It was a boring-as-fuck four weeks of putting my life on hold and going to bed at 8.30pm every night to avoid the wine cooler and turning down all social occasions.
Still, this time round I haven’t yet been in a proper situation where everyone is hammered in an adult-only environment – such as a nightclub or a wedding… I am chief bridesmaid for my best friend in two weeks time. HOLY SHIT! Who knows that will happen on 2nd June…
I have some pretty awkward stories to regale you all with on the friends’ weddings front. However, I’m determined to remember my entire role as chief this time and try not to make a complete dick of myself.
Accountability and the reasons to
Holding myself socially accountable and putting my situation out there in front of you lot is of course a huge encouragement to be strong and continue along my journey to sobriety.
The messages of support and kindness I have received have been mind-blowing. More so, the emails and personal messages from ladies who are in a similar stage in life their life – questioning their relationship with booze and whether it’s also time for them to think about a lifestyle change.
(Meanwhile, Mr T is going to contact Roger Hargreaves and offer me as a case study for a new Mr Men title – Little Miss Self-Righteous).
More so, the clarity I’m starting to gain as the brain fog subsides which, in turn, makes me so much more efficient in the office. The uninterrupted blissful sleep every night.
The energy and drive I now have to get up actually do things – whether it’s taking Teddy to his Saturday morning sports clubs, baking with Ferne, clearing a cupboard or writing a blog post – I have a house full of unfinished jobs that I need to crack on with.
All of this is so worth the trade off of that fuzzy feeling of being pissed, feeling confident, and being the life and soul of any social occasion – which translates to some as being the mouthy dickhead who can’t handle her booze but thinks she’s the dog’s bollocks.
But above and beyond all this… I’m really starting to enjoy my time so much more with my children. I am developing something called patience. Of course it helps when I’m jumping out of bed on a Monday morning leaving plenty of time to get organised, rather than grabbing every last second of sleep right up until 8am, because I sunk 2 bottles of red wine with Sunday dinner, resulting in a crazy 20 minute Monday morning turnaround of shouting and screaming.
The sugar cravings
There is one very obvious downside to this process and that is the sugar cravings. I have given in to the little voice in my head who is pushing me to consume all sorts of sugary shit.
I have shunned most sugars (apart from in wine) for 15 years. Trained myself to hate the stuff. It is bad for me. Sugar is the devil. (6 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc a week is ok though).
I’ve trained myself to believe that some food groups are bad for me – sugar will result in me piling on the pounds, and God forbid, some terminal illness. So I avoid it – I say no to the desserts, to the ice creams, to the chocolate. But yet I smash back dozens of glasses of wine every weekend and then eat two bags of Kettle Chips – where’s the fucking logic in that?
So I’m a few pounds heavier already – but then I think I’m making up for 20 years of not eating cake. Actually, today alone I’ve done that. But, I’m hoping that once the pesky sugar cravings subside, that I can say no to the cake. And the Haribo, and the lashings of jam on toast. And the chocolate – otherwise I’m going to be a porker and a sober bore, and I’m not sure how well that will go down with Mr T.
It’s early days. It could all go tits up at my best friend’s wedding… But so far, I’m really proud of myself – state of mind is definitely key to moving forward successfully. Just sitting back and asking myself WHY.
Can I have fun without getting trashed if I put my mind to it?
We’ll see won’t we.
READ PART 1 of My Sober Journey – Mind Over Matter and The Children’s Party