Getting through it

On Wednesday afternoon, I was at my desk as usual, preparing an agenda for a meeting I was due to chair the following day, and my boss asked to see me.

Fifteen minutes later, I was walking out of the office, lugging three bags full of possessions.

To say I was blindsided would be an understatement: I literally had no idea at all that a redundancy was on the cards. It was, at least, a genuine redundancy, complete with severance pay and a good reference. But it was a complete shock, and I didn’t get chance to say goodbye to people with whom I had worked for four years. There was no farewell card.

Lovely Husband is away on business, in an area so remote that he can only ring me by satellite phone. He didn’t have a chance to ring me that first night. So that left me, my grief, and two small children in a house full of alcohol, alone.

It’s difficult not to feel self-pitying rage in those circumstances. The whole point of alcohol, after all, is to be there when you are sad and hurt and there is too much emotion to deal with right that moment. It is there to take the edge off: that is what it is for.

But I’m sober. The grief keeps hitting me on and off, interspersed with anger, fear and not an insignificant amount of excitement for whatever the next thing is. But I’m dealing with it so sensibly that it is sickening: I borrowed some comfort reading from the library, and I have been in bed by 9.30pm every night with a mug of chamomile tea.

Last night, Friday, Little Girl came down with a sudden violent stomach bug. Vomit covered the walls and the floor of our little bathroom, and she cried at the mess, and I wished fiercely that I had a second parent to help me out while I wrung out cloths and stuck her in the shower. It seems awfully unfair that I am barely standing straight again after the redundancy dealt me such a crippling blow, and now I am ankle-deep in regurgitated sausage, I thought.

Imagine if I’d been drunk, though. Imagine dealing with all that effluvia, and all that impotent rage, and all those feelings of unfairness and self pity, drunk. Imagine getting out of bed every hour on the hour to position a toddler over a bucket yet again, while dealing with the first toxic pulses of a hangover.

If I hadn’t been sober when I was made redundant, I would have gone home and drunk without limits. It’s the sort of life event that feels like you can break every drinking rule you have, after all, and I would have polished off a couple of bottles of wine without feeling guilty about it for once. Part of me would have enjoyed having the excuse.

And then, when Little Girl vomited everywhere and then burst into terrified wails, I would have been trying to deal with it dizzy and sick and slow on my feet. I wouldn’t have been able to lie down with her and cuddle her safely; I certainly wouldn’t be able to take care of two children today, on two hours sleep, not with a hangover.

Sobriety delivers all the things that alcohol promises, they say, and in a crisis that is certainly true. I am getting through it sober. I am getting through it because I am sober.

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15 thoughts on “Getting through it

  1. wow, I am so sorry about the “redundancy” (here in the states you would have been “fired’ or, more nicely “let go”). This post is great tho, so true. as i read it i felt that knowledge that a few bottles of wine could have been consumed guilt free for once, because the circumstances warranted it. And the idea made me cringe…thankfully you too.
    There is nothing that drinking won’t make worse, that is for sure.
    And I, for one, am dying to see what the next chapter brings…..i feel great things coming!

  2. Wow. You are getting through this with bravery. Being there for little girl must have felt so good. Just thinking of the alternative, which I have definitely lived through before, is so sad.

    Flame the feeling of excitement for the future. Perhaps you have been offered a chance to do something you need to.

    Big hug.

    Anne

  3. The saying goes, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” I am never so sure about that when the big piles of doo doo are being chucked into the fan.
    Being sober doesn’t make any of this any less shitty. It doesn’t make you feel any better, but it being sober doesn’t add that extra layer of crap on top of the big pile of doo doo that is already there.
    When one door closes another opens. Getting sober has shown us that is true.
    Stay strong. And I lope Little Girl is feeling better. 🙂

  4. one image that has really turned out to be true for me is DDG’s view of sobriety as our ‘sober wall’. something we can lean on, hard, in tough times and which will support us unflinchingly. and our sobriety won’t go away on business, and be uncontactable on its cell-phone, either, unlike even the best of partners. Nope. It will be there in the middle of the night, in the shower cubicle with the sick child. right there at your side as you walk out of the office carrying your employment in a box.

    and it will be there, cheering you on, into whatever happens next. that is pretty damn fine, yes?!

    ‘Just stay sober; if for no other reason than, you will need that sober wall to lean against one day, and it will be there for you.’

    keep doing what you’re doing. you are doing a great job, Allie. xx

  5. Waow what a tough week you’ve had. Well done for facing this challenge and staying sober. I had a similar experience in the summer with a job – after two months I found something else. The break was just what I needed though to take care of myself. Good luck with finding your next role x

  6. I’m so sorry about the redundancy, though yes, excited for what lies ahead for you. And then to have a sick kid and a husband away on travel? That’s quite a few challenges at once. Your sobriety muscles are getting a workout, and once this passes, you’ll know you can handle a rough patch sober and be a better mom and person than possible even on the best of days if you were still drinking.

  7. So sorry to hear about the rough time you’ve been having, Allie. It is something, when in the middle of a shitstorm, you can pause for a moment and think with gratitude, at least I am getting to face this sober. I love what Primrose said about the “sober wall” that will support us. Hang in there. Hugs. xx

  8. Oh this is one that hit home for me. When I was laid off I was still drinking…and it was the PERFECT excuse to drink without guilt.

    Much later, after I sobered up I was still unemployed and it took another long period of time before I actually dealt with the feelings of loss, betrayal, and why me’s not to mention the swift kick in my ego. You’re so much better off because you’re going through this sober…you can deal with all of that crap NOW instead of just postponing it. And what a blessing you were there for your little one.

    I will leave you with this…I’ve never met ANYONE who, a couple of years down the road, didn’t feel that their lay-off/redundancy was the best thing that ever happened to them…including me!

    But give yourself permission to grieve…it’s necessary.

    Sherry

  9. So sorry about the job. What a shock!
    Good for you though, hanging on to your sobriety through the job loss and the sick daughter. Sobriety and your poor daughter are important for life.

  10. Sorry to hear about your redundancy, must be awful. I just wanted to say what an excellent point you made at the end there. Life has a way of teaching us these lessons over and over, in better and better ways. Which is probably for the best because we, as foolish mortals, so easily forget the reasons why we do what we do. Keep it up.

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