Red Wedding

I love Clare Pooley’s “The Sober Diaries”. She’s amazing. She is so witty. Not in the least condescending. When I read her Day 0, I laughed. She writes about how she looked down at her coffee mug filled with the remnants of a wine bottle…at 11AM. It said “World’s Best Mum” on the outside of the mug. I interpreted it as her highlighting the contradiction between the mug’s outside and the mug’s insides. The irony. She made me giggle…but then sigh. I can’t imagine what she truly felt. Those were Ms. Pooley’s raw feelings to feel. Yet, she put her story out there in the world, for the rest of us to read, to make us feel seen. Feel understood. Feel less alone. And if she meant to interject humor into her Day 0 story, then I love her even more.

But I won’t assume anyone’s Day 0 is funny. When you reach the somber realization that you NEED to stop drinking, it should never be taken lightly. I do wish, though, that there was some element of humor to my Day 0.

That day, I woke up and was irritable. Just super irritable and anxious and shaky. I wanted a drink. My body actually needed alcohol…to maintain. What a terrible realization. “STOP NOW!” my body begged. But my brain had different plans. Two more secret mini bottles down in the bathroom, and Whooooosh…. “Ah….that’s better,” said my pickled brain. I went out into the day – no buzz, not drunk – but anxiety managed…with vodka. At 11AM, nonetheless.

But later that day, when those two mini bottles wore off, I felt an excruciating jolt in my side. I realized something in that moment. It was my liver. An actual f’n organ. My drinking was causing undeniable physical harm. On my Day 0, my liver hurt. Like Game of Thrones Red Wedding stabbing pain. Nothing about that pain (or that GoT episode) was funny.

And that was it. Here I am 9 days later. My liver is forgiving me, but I will never, ever forget that pain. I can’t. I want this blog to focus on recovery. On the future ahead, one day at a time. But I need to put down how I got here, so I won’t forget this time. And if I do, I’ll subject myself to that horrific episode of GoT again and again as punishment. You know what I’m talking about.

“Mumma doesn’t drink…”

“Hey Mumma! How come Daddy has a beer bottle, but you don’t?” I looked into my seven-year-old son’s giant, blue eyes. He was sincerely curious. We were hosting a party in our backyard. I surveyed the scene while I gripped a lime seltzer in my hand. Most of our guests were lazily swinging beer bottles that reflected the late summer sun. They were laughing and chatting it up in small groups. All the kids were running around, squealing that high-pitched squeal only dogs can hear. All seemed right in the world. I looked back down at my boy and answered, “Because Mumma doesn’t drink, little love.”

If only that were true…

Just five minutes earlier, Mumma was in the bathroom, downing two vodka mini bottles to take the edge off. They were in the bathroom vanity. Hidden strategically in the travel case tucked behind the tampons. Because who the hell would think to look behind the tampons (brilliant, right?) Vodka makes her interesting. Vodka makes her worthy.

Vodka is lying.

Fuck it. Mumma is lying. I am lying. I’ve been drinking on and off in secret for over a year. I’ve been lying to my amazing husband, who thinks I’ve been sober this entire pandemic. He’s cheered me on, told me I’m doing great in the wake of personal issues with my parents, issues that would normally send me on a bender (spoiler alert: They did).

I smile weakly when he praises me. And that sends me right back into the bathroom to lie some more in the form of one or two more hidden airplane bottles.

To make matters worse, I just lied to my first-born son. I guess I told him what I wished for. Perhaps there’s some solace in knowing that. But not enough. Not nearly enough. The lies need to stop…

So I’m here. It’s my fifth (sixth?) attempt at getting sober. I’ve tried AA, tried a psychic (yep!), tried paid-for online support groups, sheer will, quit lit, you name it. But I’m back at the beginning. My hope is this blog will hold me accountable.

Because some day, I want to say to my boy, with confidence and pride — and some final f’n honesty

“Mumma doesn’t drink.”