Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Relapse Remembered

I am in Scotland.

Mr SM needs to return to his homeland on a regular basis in order to stride up heather coated mountains in a skirt without underpants (yes, it is true what they say about Scots), shoot things (at the appropriate times of year), do silly dancing and eat deep fried offal. He is scared that if he leaves it too long between visits he will turn into a sissy (English person).

As usual, we do the pilgrimage in two parts: part one involves me driving for nine hours north with a car packed to the gills with all our stuff, #1, #2, #3 and the dog. Part two involves Mr SM following a few days later (important business to finish in the office, obviously) on the train, reading the papers and sipping gin and tonics.

The last time I made a serious attempt to quit drinking was two years ago. I made it to about six weeks sober, then did the long drive north....

(Aside: I often read about people cracking at the 6-8 week mark. I looked back through this blog, and realised that day 46 was when I hit 'the wall' - see my post: the Sobercoaster. Apparently 'the wall' phase classically runs from day 46-120, and is a common reason for relapse)

So, two years ago, all was fine until about eight hours into the journey. #1, #2 and #3 started fighting. Proper yelling and pulling hair. I suspect teeth were involved. I lost it and started yelling too. The dog spotted some sheep (he's a Chelsea dog - cashmere jumpers he's familiar with, actual fleeces on legs...not so much) and starts barking madly.

Then, to cap it all, the police close off the only road over the Cheviots due to a road traffic accident. We took a diversion and got horribly lost.

By the time we arrived it was late, I was exhausted and fed up and everyone was crying over something. I told myself that I really, really, really deserved a glass of wine. I found a bottle in a cupboard, opened it, and within about an hour and a half it was empty.

The next day I felt awful. After six weeks sober my body was screaming for mercy. I had no desire whatsoever to drink again.

Ha ha! I thought. I have managed to reset the system. I am a normal drinker. I can let rip from time to time, then have absolutely no interest in continuing. Well done me.

And I didn't drink again. For a week. Then I drank a couple of glasses over dinner with family. Patted myself on the back. Look at me: moderation in action! Didn't drink again for five days or so.

You know the story. A month later I was back to drinking every day, more than ever.

So this time round I was nervous. I can't remember ever having done that journey, with all the packing, unpacking, driving, traffic jams, refereeing, etc etc without a bucket of alcohol at the end of it.

Until today!

Yes, I was frayed when we got here. No, the solitary Becks Blue that I'd packed didn't hit the spot. BUT a few hours later and the children are in bed, I've had a hot bath, lit the fire (I know it's July, but it's Scotland), made a hot chocolate, unpacked the laptop and I'm doing great. The only sound is the ticking of the kitchen clock and the crackling of the embers.

And, even better, I'll wake up to the glorious landscape, stillness and fresh air, with a clear head and bags of enthusiasm.

Another 'first' ticked off, my friends.

Love SM x


  1. I absolutely love and adore you're blog. You are SO like me, except funnier. Joking aside, I'm a highly functioning alcoholic too, a mother and a writer, and I would like to add your blog to my feedly-feed so as not to miss anything. I'm seven days sober and found your blog via soberistas. Can one subscribe somehow?

  2. What I meant was: I can't seem to find the blog on feedly. What am I doing wrong? Or isn't it there?

    1. Hi Ulla! Thanks so much, and welcome! Well done on 7 days - that's awesome! I'm afraid I've never used Feedly, so not sure how it works! Do you not just add my web address? You can subscribe by e-mail if you like. All you need to do is go to the main site (not the mobile version) and add your e-mail address on the top right hand side. Love SM x

  3. thats a nice story and good inspiration. Summertime is full of trips away and events we associate with drinking/ relaxing etc. Nice one. Enjoy x

  4. Love this SM! Have a wonderful time in Scotland. That is one place on my bucket list for sure. I am going to re-read this post when the moderation argument rears it ugly head in my brain again:) I know I would be the exact same as you and right back to nightly drinking if I started trying to "moderate"

  5. Welcome to Scotland and well done on resisting after such a long journey. Bloody freezing here! Even for Scotland it's cold for this time of year. Hey ho! Enjoy the lovely fresh air xxx

  6. I'm in your 'hood EH! Just an hour away! Just been running in cold rain. Still, good excuse for a log fire.... X

  7. Nice job.
    Sobriety doesn't make annoying, mind numbing tasks like long drives Korea u loudly better. But it does make them less hprrible the morning after.
    Enjoy Scotland. I can't wait to hear more.

  8. Yes welcome to chilly Scotland :-) I'm dismayed the wall period is so long, my previous attempts have always failed around the 6 week mark too...I'm on day 61 now for the first time ever, but clearly a rocky 60+ days lies ahead...x

    1. Don't fret, SB - it's not that bad - it's just a bit up and down, and the ups get better and longer! SM x

    2. Thank you! That's really good to hear :-) x

  9. You'd better get some elderflower and grape fizz from Tesco cos I'm a comin' mama! It's the crackling of the fire and the ticking of the clock that got me! And the kids being in bed. I haven't blogged in a week and am just checking in now. It really feels like coming home to me! I never understood that expression before. Thank god for all you people. We're heading off on Saturday, the four of us plus dog to the west coast of Ireland. In a tent. Just think Fr ted in the caravan with Graham Norton and that'll be us.....

  10. I'm seven weeks sober so am in wall territory too. Ah well..you've scaled the wall - with the crackling of the fire and the ticking of the clock - sounds peaceful..

  11. Hi SM,
    Sounds like a much better holiday this time round. Nothing beats a crackling of a fire and a hot chocolate. Enjoy! A x

  12. I love reading books from Scotland and England.
    I would love to visit both places.
    But in any case, I am glad you are going to have a good sober visit this time!

  13. I started a week long family trip on day 48. I was confident that I was strong enough to avoid drinking. Nope. It was a cruise and alcohol was everywhere. It's so hard to start over. I am on day 10 (again) but the time is moving so slowly. And now that I've given in once I am so much more afraid but more determined than ever that it won't happen again.