Now that I’ve begun, what do I do with the Gun? Did I say Gun? I meant Gin… What do I do with all the Gin?

Day 3 of 66 days of sobriety.

Euston, we have a problem. The problem is in the shape of many bottles of craft Gin sat in the kitchen looking like hopeful soldiers waiting to be picked for battle. They need to go somewhere else for at least another 63 days. The problem is deciding where. I don’t want to give it to any recovering alcoholic friends for safekeeping no matter how secure they may be in their recovery, because it’s just plain mean. Nor do I want to put it in the hands of any drinker friends in case this habit formation business is a bust and on day 67 I want to celebrate with a gimlet only to find it’s all gone. That’s probably not the best attitude to have but I have it and I’ll have to live with it.

I’m toying with idea of putting it in Gina and Dave’s garage as neither have a penchant for gin, but I’m not all that up for having the conversation as to why I need my gin in their garage instead of just putting it in my unused downstairs loo. If I were to explain I can already hear Gina’s catchphrase of ‘I don’t get it’ after my pointing out the multiple why’s.

And that’s just the gin. What about the craft beer? Just 2 hours ago I had to open the door to a gentleman delivering a crate of beer. What would ordinarily be a happy occasion met with exclamations of delight and a running to get a knife to slice through the packaging to reveal my gift was today a sombre moment indeed. I placed the box on the hallway bench and slowly backed away from it leaving it safely sealed. It sits there like an abandoned backpack at an airport, all menacing and full of the potential for destruction.

The beers I can possibly live with in the unused loo. Not all of last months installment have been finished yet so I know I can resist them. But what about when the next parcel arrives? The next one is the Big One. On the first or second of March a delivery person will knock and place the Gin parcel in my hands. Horror.

The rational thing to do is cancel the alcohol subscriptions. What sort of a very nearly but not yet 30 year old woman has subscriptions to craft beer and gin clubs anyway? It’s such middle class, married people behaviour! And I am far from middle class and have no intention of marrying again thank you muchly. So cancellation has to be the thing. I shall do it promptly before talking myself out of it.

It’s probably a good idea to remind myself that gin is the devil. It’s the worst drink for me bar tequila (just sniff it and I get memory loss) and kronenberg (flashback of punching a guy for calling me a lesbian. I was holding hands with a woman at the time and I am most likely a bit of a lesbian). Gin has this strange roulette quality to it in that you never know what dose will fuck you up. The only thing you can count on is that at some point it will fuck you up. It could be the fourth, sixth or fifteenth, but it will find you. Maybe don’t drink 15 then, I hear you say. Ha! If that was a thing that I could do then there would be no need to be writing this now would there?

Don’t get me wrong I am super capable of having just one or two drinks when the small people are home and more often than not go completely without a drop when I’m on parenting duty. But then the friday they go away hits and BAM! Out comes the wretched boozehound, sniffing for the most potent poison to mess me up in the shortest time frame possible. I figure I owe it to myself. I’ve been a good girl for nearly a fortnight so I deserve to let my hair down, and by let my hair down I of course mean let it hang down into the toilet bowl as I attempt what has been affectionately named a ‘tactical vom.’ For those unfamiliar with this term (as i’d hope most would be) a tactical vom is enforced vomiting after excessive drinking to make way for, you guessed it… more drinking.

Gosh that all sounds terribly unhealthy. One could almost feel shame at such behaviour if one hadn’t done so many shameful things that this barely blips on the shameometer.

The small people going away is the biggest trigger for me. I think it’s about loneliness. The weekend comes and the only real option for socialising is the pub. My best friend Meg is four years sober so spending time with her would be perfect, but she spends her weekend evenings helping other addicts get clean, selfish cow. Maybe I have other friends who’d rather not get shitfaced on the weekend but I haven’t bothered to seek them out. I must make that a goal. Find out what friends would rather do something other than drink till we forget our own names, but so help me god, if someone recommends we go to the cinema (cold, dark, loud, uncomfortable) i’ll take to my bed and cry.

But anyway, about this subscription business. I have just this moment had a fantastic idea. I will most definitely cancel both beer and gin subscriptions, bite the bullet and ask to hide all booze in Gina and Dave’s garage. Then I will treat myself to a subscription to Womankind magazine, an amazing, ad free, feminist delight of a mag. I have always wanted to subscribe but had written it off as a ludicrous luxury despite the fact that a 2 year subscription works out to cost about the same amount as one month with the gin and beer clubs. Excellent plan!

Hurrah! I will, for another 63 days (but who’s counting?) save money, improve my health, enrich my brain and most importantly, hide the Gun (oops, that again!).

Ever Unclear.

66 days of soda water: Forming a sobriety habit.

After a bit of soul searching, and phone, keys and dignity searching, I have decided to spend the next 66 days booze free. 66 seems like a very strange number I know, but there is a very valid (and not very well researched by me) scientific reason for this. In 2010 psychologist Phillippa Lally and her colleagues undertook a study to see how many days it takes to form a new habit and found that 66 is the magic number.

This may not seem a terrifically long time and I’m sure there are many who’d look at that number and say ‘that’s just over two months, I can’t remember having a drink in the last 3!’ My response to these people is frankly, go fuck yourselves. Not really, I think it’s fabulous if you’ve managed to live happily in this world without the claws of alcohol scratching at your self esteem, but this post, and all subsequent posts in the next 66 days are most likely not for you. That is unless you want to read all about my terrible drunken misdeeds and feel smug that you’ve never gone for coffee at 2pm and then found yourself being forcibly removed from a strip club at 2am (true story).

66 six days seems like a manageable goal and not a huge commitment. My commitment issues run so deep I won’t even colour my hair with semi-permanent dye. Though I like to think the experience is going to have a more semi-permanent effect than semi-permanent hair colour which, let’s face it should really be called temporary (may have just talked myself into finally covering the greys). The hope is that though the sobriety may not be permanent, the learning that occurs in this time will be.

‘Why though?’ I hear you ask

When I was a child I used to play detective. I loved looking for clues and trying to piece together chains of events through little scraps of evidence, and was sure that I would grow up to be one. Well… I did. I am a part-time, unpaid investigator. I am every fortnight (when the small people are away) assigned the case labelled what the fuck happened last night? This case also comes with mini cases linked to it such as, is Beryl (drinking partner) alive? Did I get a kebab? And, who is this gentleman?

The one that tipped it for me was last week’s investigation. I awoke blessedly alone but with the worst memory loss since I was 17 when the future ex-husband and I drank a bottle of southern comfort in the park and then… I woke up. Apparently we had been to two student bars and i’d fallen off a wall. We had been out for hours and I have no recollection of it. Last week Beryl and I had gone to the pub and that’s where the memories basically end. I woke and thought ‘I’d promised myself a kebab and I didn’t get one!’ I was bereft. I then went to feed the dog in the kitchen and discovered that I had indeed bought a kebab and failed to eat it. There was also a full cup of cold tea and a dustpan and brush full of sugar on the counter top. The dustpan is evidence that someone else was here as there is not a hope in hell I’d  have cleaned up any mess. Who though I hope will remain a mystery.

It took me about 2 hours to realise that Beryl was not dead and missing but in fact crashed out on the sofa.

At around midday my eagerly awaited ice skates arrived and I was delighted, and devastated. All I wanted to do was hop on a bus and twirl about the ice (can’t actually twirl, but that’s not the point), but all I was able to do was climb into bed and watch all three pitch perfect movies in a row and pick at the cold kebab. I have to point out here, eating a cold kebab is not exclusive to hangovers, I’d eat you if you were covered in enough chilli sauce and garlic mayo.

That was when I realised just how much drinking gets in the way of my living. Because when i’m hungover i’m not living, i’m barely surviving.

If I’d been sensible I’d have not let a drop of alcohol pass my lips after that and I’d now be 9 days into the 66. But on Saturday, after returning from dropping the kids to their fathers and spending the day helping a friend in her understaffed salon I had one alcoholic peach iced tea. That was all I had, but if I’m going to do this I’m going to do it properly.

Yesterday was day one and it was wonderful. I had the opportunity to go out on the saturday and didn’t. It was like I was living parallel lives. There was the me who had a fantastic day, and the me who was lying in bed hungover and hating life. While I was out walking Elizabeth and noticing the first daffodils on our favourite field and enjoying the church bells, the me who did go out was being woken by Lisa putting all her weight on one of my breasts and screaming in my face (Lisa is the cat, not a mad woman alarm clock) and cursing that the window is so far away (right above the bed) when it needs shutting to block out the ruddy bells. While I was drinking coffee at a dear friends the other me had sipped at a cup of tea and wondered how long it would stay down for. As I was having a nice chat with the uni librarian at around 1pm the hungover me had decided it was safe to smoke then swiftly realised it wasn’t; enter the return of the tea.

The first daffodils of the year that would have gone unnoticed by hanging eyes.

I spent an hour and a half visiting a brilliant friend who is sadly in hospital at the moment. We talked and laughed and discussed how handsome we both thought the son is of the lady in the opposite bed, and I felt so grateful to be there with her and not festering in a stinking pit of doom like the alternate me was. We both decided that my day was better because of the parallel me. Because I could have been a mess I was so much happier with my day.

So maybe that’s the way I approach this. Maybe I imagine every day could have been a hangover day. Everyday will be much more ripe with possibility simply because it might not have been.

Doubtless I’ll divulge more of the reasons behind this challenge soon but right now i’m off to the ice rink because I can!!! Because I’m not holding down tea and bad and hazy memories!

I’ll let you know if I fall on my face, figuratively and literally.

Ever Unclear.

The reference for the habit formation study is below if anyone wants to read it and not just make life decisions based on reading the abstract like ahem, certain people.

Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C.H., Potts, H.W. and Wardle, J., 2010. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European journal of social psychology, 40(6), pp.998-1009.

Look what you made me do: An open letter to my uterus.

Dear Uterus (and ovaries, because let’s face it, you’re all in this together),

Firstly I’d like to thank you for the fantastic work you did on the two humans you grew for me, I really couldn’t be happier with the end results. And though you did take two weeks longer to finish each project I bear you no ill will for it as, unlike most builders you didn’t make me pay for the extra time. I’d also like to express my gratitude for all of the P.E lessons you helped me skip simply by having you there as a dependable excuse.

As grateful as I am for the services you have provided I would like to now politely ask you to settle down and leave me to run the show for a while. For 20 years you have taken charge of every date, job interview, parents evening, night out, funeral etc. I have been a hostage to your ever changing wants and demands and at times it has cost me dearly.

Do you remember when we were 18 and you decided we ought to throw a chocolate and peanut butter Shakeaway at the future ex-husband in the middle of town? That one cut deep. I really wanted that milkshake, as you well know as it was doubtless your idea to buy it in the first place. Or what about the time I lost the T.V remote and you pumped so much rage through my body I had to take an angry walk in the rain? And when you had me kick the wing mirror off that car. The list is exhausting and could go on forever.

And that’s not even the start of it Madam. That’s just the times you’re making my bones feel like wire and my skin like sandpaper. What about the times you’re feeling broody? That’s when you really take the driving seat, and i’m not even a passenger, i’m tied up and duct taped in the boot. Must you choose my mates by looks and pheromones? Must you choose them at all? I don’t even know what type of man I like really, because you’ve never given me a choice. You drive me into a bar and instantly have me hitting on the alpha type, the emotionally unavailable, frankly, the most unsuitable.

I understand that you are in your own way trying to help. That you are using your primitive methods of selecting sperm that will produce the best offspring. But darling, and I know I’ve never told you this before, but your job is done. You don’t need to help me procreate anymore, you did such a fabulous job the first two times I decided to quit while we’re ahead. And if you opened a newspaper once in a while you’d see that now probably isn’t the ideal time to make more humans.

If you could just fine tune your selection system so that you could sniff out intelligence, humour and mental stability opposed to testosterone I really think we might be able to co-exist more amicably. I really don’t want to sound ungrateful, I know in my heart that you are an asset and there are people who would love to have a uterus as lively and functional as you. I’d just really like it if we could work together a bit more, if maybe we could share the running of my life. Even if we just went 50/50? If just half of the time I could know who I truly was, and what my own goals were. If I was able to go confidently into a room and know for certain I wasn’t going to throw something at the wall or text an ex inappropriately then I’d be halfway to becoming a functional adult.

I know i’ll miss you when you start to fade, and i’ll regret asking this of you one day, but please give me more than a few days a month of peace. Just a few extra days of good decision making that isn’t fuelled by your lust and loathing. Longer interludes where I know for certain if it’s me that’s angry or tired or hungry, and not you sending cave woman signals across my body.

But even as I write this, and the dog barks at those passing by the door, I too sniff the alpha as he walks by. You really are a relentless hound and it seems for now, I remain,

Your servant,

Ever Unclear.

Day 1…

Well that’s misleading. Never would I have the diligence to write daily.

It has taken years to puck up the courage to write this blog. Not because I have some dark and scary story to tell full of horrors, but because of the lack of them. Though, that’s not entirely true, my life has not been one of middle class privilege and I certainly have more than one interesting yarn to weave. What I really wanted was a theme; a thing to glue the whole thing together. But i’m not an expert on anything. That’s when I realised that that is what the theme really is. You see, any time I think get close to mastery of anything, I then discover I’ve only scratched the surface.

I’m scratching the surface at parenting. As soon as you think you’ve worked your kids out then then wake up the next morning with a new personality.

I’m scratching the surface at feminism. I’ll start the day in a fourth wave frenzy and end it crying over the fact there’s no man around to take the bins out.

I’m scratching the surface as a student. I’ll get a first in an assignment then spend the next three lectures in a daze.

And this should absolutely not sound negative. It’s exciting (not so much the bins thing). I’m slowly learning how fantastic it is that we don’t really know anything. It means the scope of possibility is huge!

Join me if you like as I navigate the waters of nonsense, as I try to parent, and study and boss it as a feminist. Watch as I fall, and as I get up again. No doubt silly poetry will ensue, and rants about my children’s teachers and open letters to… well, anyone who irritates me really.

Maybe we’ll learn something. And if not, at best i’ll feel good for the vent.

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