So how am I actually doing?

I’m glad you asked!  Five weeks today, and I am riding high on the inevitable biochemical consequences of ceasing to subject myself to high doses of a mild depressant, thank you.

This pink cloud thing.  That you can ‘fall off’.  What bollocks.  I mean, sorry.  Let’s always assume that I’ve put in the little caveat about AA being a very valuable resource with much wisdom, because I really do think that, but sorry.  I can’t be doing with the little jargony things.  Call it what it actually is, which is a feeling of relative ‘high’ that’s caused because you’ve stopped pouring depressants down your throat.  And you don’t ‘fall off’, you get used to the high.  Your tolerance to being normal goes up, in fact.

Did you guys play that game, in school, where you lay on the floor with your arms outstretched, and two friends held your arms down while you tried to push against their hands?  And then when they took the downward pressure away, your arms would ‘float up’, almost of their own accord?  I am reliably informed, by which I mean I asked Twitter, that this was called ‘Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board’.  
That one.  Yes?*

Right.  Well, that’s getting sober.  Alcohol weighs us down.  Like a lead blanket, or two high school friends holding our arms (I’m not good with similes).  And when we finally stop, we feel light.  Fizzy.  Floating in space.

Of course it can’t last.  I’m basically walking around like I have a crush on life at the moment.  Grinning for no reason.  Ideas fizzing in my brain constantly.  Nobody thinks that’s going to last.  Nobody thinks that’s how the rest of the world live all the time.  Surely?  It’d be ludicrous.  Nothing would get done, for a start.

So, I’m fully expecting that my …mental arms will gradually fall back into their usual position, and that should hopefully be fine too.  Because there are some other things that I don’t think will go away, and here they are.

  1. My skin!  My face!  My eyes!  You GUYS you should see how hot I am recently.  I am still carrying the 3-odd lbs I put on since I stopped drinking (this number is approximated not because I am too blasé to care, but rather because my scales are packed).  But my face looks as if I’m a good ten pounds lighter.  And let’s face it, a body is easier to cover up than a double chin.  I keep catching sight of myself in mirrors and thinking well hello there, me.
  2. My hair is less greasy!  I never would have noticed this effect if another blogger hadn’t mentioned the same phenomenon (and I can’t remember who, sorry.  Was it you?  Claim credit in the comments!), but it is unexpectedly fantastic.  I used to wash my hair every second day, but basically that meant greasy horribleness on the interim days.  I was starting to shrug and accept that I needed to wash every day, and then bye bye wine, and hello good hair.  I have no idea why this is true, but it is indeed true.
  3. I am sleeping far more deeply, which I can only assume is good for me.  I am not bounding out of bed filled with energy, or anything – I did mention I have a toddler, right? – and the prospect of a daytime nap is pretty much second only to the prospect of…actually, no, a daytime nap is probably the best thing ever, but all in all, I’m chalking this one up to good stuff.
  4. A whole host of other vaguely unpleasant health-related things seem to have receded.  My digestive system has sorted itself out, my gum disease seems better, I used to sometimes wake up with an odd taste in my mouth that lasted all day (not, like, sick or anything.  Just odd) and that’s gone.
  5. THIS IS THE REALLY EXCITING BIT.  I am, it turns out, funnier and smarter than I thought I was!  By, like, quite a lot!  I have so many things to say, and do, and think!  I know that brain cells destroyed by alcohol do not regenerate like the Magic Liver, and everything, but I guess that maybe all of my neural pathways were busy thinking about ways to obtain more alcohol without anyone (including me) noticing how much I was drinking, and now they’re not so I’m thinking about why all the woman of my generation have found themselves in career cul-de-sacs and whether or not Bob Carr is, in fact, an alien.
  6. And so, because of this, and because of this blog, I’m writing again.  There’s a bit of chicken-and-egg going on here.  If I hadn’t tried to get sober, I wouldn’t have started writing this blog.  And because you lovely people actually read it, I write more, and because of that I stay sober.  And also it means that I remembered something I used to know, which is that I love writing and I’m so much happier when I do it.  So I’ve also restarted my old personal blog, and I reached out to a group of wonderful women I know, some of whom are professional writers and all of whom are intellectually unfulfilled (yes, we’re all mothers of young children, why do you ask?), and we’re starting a group blog, and I’ve never written this much, and it’s making me so very happy.

Sobriety isn’t a magic bullet.  I’m still tired in the morning.  My children still drive me bonkers with frustration.  I’m still overqualified and underpaid and I’m still fat.  Some of the good things in my life, like the fact that I’m moving house this weekend, came about by my own efforts despite the fact that I was drinking.  I’m not going to play into a simple narrative that goes; drinking made me useless and destructive and pathetic, and now I am a high-achieving eagle soaring over the corporate clouds (I SAID I was bad at simile).  But I am happy, happy, happy, and grateful as hell.

*In the course of writing this, Twitter has now told me that this is not the right game.  I swear this game existed though.  And if it didn’t, I’m going to pretend it did, because I thought of this particular metaphor on the bus this morning and I’ve been pleased with myself all day for coming up with it, and I refuse to let reality dampen my self-admiration.  Okay?


13 thoughts on “So how am I actually doing?

  1. Like this. Like very much. Can I borrow a little corner of your pink cloud? I’m a bit over the ‘meh’ cloud I’ve been sitting on all week. It’s just not very comfortable or appealing. I’m not going to drink, because that isn’t the answer, but I feel a bit cranky about it all.

    Your post reminded me I have experienced all these things. Well, except for the greasy hair thing. And, hmm, dunno about the funnier and smarter thing either (DAMN IT) but the glowing skin, the good sleep, the gums stopping bleeding, the stomach settling, etc. Good good very very good.

    Oh and good luck with the house move (god how I hate moving). Just think how much easier it will be without a hangover. Are you moving far?

  2. Wow, what a lovely, upbeat post. Thanks you for putting a bit of loveliness into my morning. Just wondering – you know how everyone goes on about how good your skin and hair gets in pregnancy? Wonder how much of that is due to knocking booze on the head? Spooky. Doesn’t quite work sadly. I’m an every-other-day gal, too, and I could go a full week when pregnant. Bit of an extreme solution to hair improvement though. Will stick to shampoo from now on. xxx

  3. Love this post! It’s great to look back on too- around 4-5 weeks was when I felt the effects you’ve described, but down the road you look in the mirror and this starts to be your new normal and you forget. I saw an old friend the other day and their jaw dropped at how well I was looking- thanks for reminding me of the effect not drinking has on our health- our outsides are a reflection of our healthier insides 🙂

    Happy 5 weeks x

  4. Ha! I love this post! I’ve been thinking I look hot too! Is gum disease a symptom of boozing? I have that… perhaps it’ll get better. I thought I had high blood pressure too, however this week it would appear I don’t… odd that… I am still fat though. I guess the world wouldn’t be able to cope if I was hot *and* slim!

  5. Gee, that’s an eye opener about the pink cloud thing! I was on it for a while and now am slowly coming down a bit, but still waaay happier than before. Of COURSE it can’t stay like that for ever, and that is o.k. Thanks for pointing it out like this, I like your down-to-earth way of writing a lot. I still have to wash my hair almost every day ;-/ But then, I really believed I had heart problems, and all the sympthoms dissapeared magically after stopping poisoning myself. Congrats on your 5 weeks!

  6. That’s such an awesome post – I too am fleeting hot!! Bags under the eyes have gone a sallow skin – yey!! Like you still a bit tired and fat but hey ho:-) happy to be at week 3!!! Good luv
    Ck with your move

  7. Congrats on 5 weeks and the pink cloud! Ride it out as long as you can, it’s all in the perspective and wonderful list like this one. Put it on your fridge as a reference for when those not so great days show up! Hugs!

  8. Yes! Way to go on 5 weeks. And I love your comparison of the pink cloud to that game with the arms. I have no idea what it’s called either, but I totally played it and know what you’re talking about 😉

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