The Kitchen

I’ve been sober for nearly a week and although I’m seeing lots of benefits I am positively and absolutely fucking knackered.

Sleep has been a real struggle, I have a sudden rush of energy and an activation in my brain like a switch that has lay dormant during my booze fuelled haze has been triggered and gone in to overdrive.

I’m putting loads of washing in, replying to emails, online shopping. Getting shit done, all before 4am. But this newfound productivity and energy does not bode well when you have to adult in the day. I’ve done one of the busiest shifts of my bartending career running on 2 hours sleep and both laughed and cried hard when Mila filled the bath and flooded the downstairs this week.

(I’m pleased to report I’m finally getting forty winks and feeling like a new woman for it.)

So for a couple of nights I’ve laid, like so many times before, listening to the morning birds in their song in hopes the sandman will finally pay me a visit. But this time I lay here feeling serene and grateful for the birdsong despite my lack of sleep. I smile at their call. Because this time I’m not trapped in a personal hell created by hours of ‘partying’.

You see when there’s an occasion, a gathering of friends, after the first crate is gone and it’s time to go home, for some of us the thirst remains. The ‘hardcore’ amongst us must continue into the night, and it usually takes us to someone’s kitchen.

My kitchen, friends’ kitchen, a stranger’s kitchen. Who gives a shit as long as there’s beer and drugs. Have you been? To the kitchen party?

The dimmed lights. The air thick with smoke. People wearing strange mismatched outfits. People wearing no outfits at all (usually me). Fun songs becoming increasingly obscure and stronger in deep base, as we shuffle across the lino, bopping our heads to the beat as we search for the nearest ashtray, the next line or yet another beer. You have a deep meaningful conversation with a complete stranger who you will pass in the street a week later when you’re going about life and both mumble a ‘hello’ or an awkward smile then focus on the floor, moving away as quickly as possible.

The party must end of course and we must get home not long after dawn. We must not, under any circumstances be spotted by the day folk! Our already anxious fucked up state will only be worsened by the old lady on the way for her 6am paper observing us with both pity and distaste written all over her face.

Then comes the hell, the time I am left alone just me, myself and I. My fellow kitchen dwellers already deep in slumber. But I am alone. In the dark. My thoughts spiralling out of control. Every mistake I’ve ever made. Worst case scenarios. My heart about to beat out of my chest. I’m scared I’m going to lay here and die. I shiver and curl into a small ball. I pull the covers around me. I am terrified. I am in hell. I want to die. Every. Single. Time.

Yet I continued to repeat this pattern, I continued to follow the crowd or shout ‘let’s go back to mine’. The fear of missing out gripping me in it’s icy clutches and leading me once again in to the darkness.

I no longer fear missing out on the kitchen party. I now fear missing out on sleep. Missing out on a day with my children. Missing out on money I would waste on poison. Missing out on my sobriety. Missing out on smiling when I hear those birds calling for the day to begin instead of end.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Choose wisely how you treat your heart.

The Sober Barmaid x

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The Sickness

I feel sick. Not like when people say I’m sick of this or that’s sick.

I feel sick to the pit of my stomach a deep illness I can feel bubbling away sitting heavy all day.

It’s a physical manifestation of my body craving it’s usual diet of beer and cigarettes because that’s all the poor thing knew lately.

I felt sick when I woke up.

When I got ready for work.

When I walked there.

When I poured their drinks.

When I took on extra shifts.

When the man soiled himself.

When I came home.

When I walked the dog.

When I play with my child in the park.

I feel so fucking sick.

Although it would be easy to say I’m sick of myself and the fact I’ve put my body and mind in this sicky predicament, but what good does that do? Studies show addicts are more likely to succumb back to their old ways when they dwell on the negative and don’t give themselves positive reinforcement. So instead this addict is proud. I made it through another day sober and one surrounded by alcohol for 6 hours.

In Catherine Gray’s ‘The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober’ she tells us that whilst on our sober journey to care for ourselves as we would a small child. This has helped me a lot today. What did you do when you were sick as a kid?

I used to spend the day snuggled under a big blanket, watching whatever I want on TV, my Mum being super nice to me and eating ice cream all day. Those sick days were good days! So, this sick day can be too. I will wrap myself up and love myself out of this. I never understood truly why they call an addiction an illness, until today.

My sobriety is my comfort blanket. ✌🏼

The Sober Barmaid x

Day 1 (Again)

It should be day 3, but it’s not, it’s day 1, again…

 For the first time I’m taking my sobriety more seriously I’m attempting to immerse myself in the world of the sober. I didn’t even know there was one. I’d say Ive been wanting to quit alcohol for a good year now. Maybe I always knew drink wasn’t good for me it never agreed with me but the past year or two has really taken me to the darkest places I’ve been. 

Maybe it was after Becky killed herself the darkness started truly developing. I saw me in her a mum trying her best, with such great pain from the past and a lost look in her eye. My poor friend who took her life with her treasured kids in the house, I knew she was lost but I still drank with her. Hell, thats all we did. I still pushed her out of my door bottle of vodka in hand to face the night alone because I was so drunk myself. She was silently trying to scream for help and we all drowned our concerns in wine and orange liqueur.

Maybe it was when I had a breakdown and collapsed on the floor unable to walk properly for weeks, scared I was going to die with my kids in the room playing. 

Maybe it was when I rang a friend and told her I was going to kill my self and she came with flowers and listened to me cry and drink wine at the kitchen table at 10am.

It was these times and the many, many others like it that started the downward spiral in to the black hole that has caused nothing but self loathing and no self love.

I still didn’t realise it was my addiction taking me to these depths of despair. I thought it was life, getting dealt a shit hand, my past, influence of others, mental health. It couldn’t possibly be my precious alcohol and drugs. After all they were my longest relationship.

Everyone does it right? Only bores and geeks don’t drink! How can you possibly fit in sober in a society of people who in the majority get plastered as it’s the norm? It’s a cool thing to do? Right? Right? Right? No it’s not cool it’s absolutely fucking boring that’s what it is! And I am finally ready to take control of my own happiness alcohol free! 

So like I said I am taking it more seriously than ever because I understand if I am to continue with my behaviours I will teeter so close to the cliff edge that one day I will fall. 

I’ve bought books, I’m making notes, I’m joining sober communities of people on the same journey, I’ve even started an instagram blog for my sobriety (slightly pretentious maybe, but makes me feel more accountable to myself and it’s therapeutic). So I’ve got all the gear I’m good to go yeah? 

But alas here I am again on day 1 my first moments spent trying to piece the nights events together, that’s right I woke billy up after arguing with Michael and him going to bed. It was too early for me to go to bed there were beers left. We watched cartoons and I spent my last money on a late night takeaway I didn’t eat. I let him stay up until about 1 and passed out in my clothes. Great, I’ve done it again. Any cringey messages sent? Check Facebook…there they are drunk comments and likes awarded to everyone in my feed. Anxiety kicks in. And here comes the sickness. Once again I start my day with my head in the toilet. 

It could be the bug the kids and Michael had last week, but it’s likely the however many lagers I consumed. I’m all too familiar with being here. 

Why did I do it? I knew it would be a trigger, working a busy Saturday shift, finishing at 6pm (peak drinking time), Michael meeting me from work, being offered drinks by customers, watching them all stood with a cold one in their hand that I’m pouring for them. 

My mouth starts to feel the thirst, the thirst that nags to be quenched by one thing and will not shut the fuck up and gets louder and louder until you silence it with its poison of choice. The itch that only addicts know. The fact that these thoughts becoming more and more consuming only clarify to me that I am indeed an alcoholic, a full blown raging barely functioning alcoholic. 

I could have finished my shift and left, I could have bought an alcohol free beer, I could have chosen to change my situation I told myself over and over.

But I still found myself pouring the beer, putting it to my mouth. It tastes like shit. But my thirst doesn’t think so the drunk in me wants more and more and I give in and she takes over and it turns in to a trip to the shop for a crate. 

The shame I feel is intense. But there is a definitive shift this time. I usually think well I’ve had a drink now might as well throw in the towel, face it, it’s hopeless, it’s too hard to stop drinking! Excuses. Big fat excuses to feed my addiction and neglect my true self. 

This time I will not be defeated. I spent the day providing myself with love I deserve. I wrote notes, I read my books, I updated my Instagram, I had a bubble bath and a hot chocolate with squirty cream. I’m writing this. I feel inspired and refreshed and ready to face this challenge again. 

Day 1 is better than day 0, no great thing ever comes easy and that’s what this is, a GREAT thing. The smooth sea does not make for a skilful sailor after all. Day 1 is positive day 1 is good and I am ready to give myself the life I deserve. 

The Sober Barmaid x

Write Myself Sober

Writing. A form of escapism I’ve always enjoyed.

When I was a little girl I’d sit at the computer typing stories and decorating them in bold pink fonts. I had a poem published in an art gallery. I was 9 when a teacher read one of my stories, she told me ‘never loose that imagination of yours it’s something very special’ and I never did. I still 18 years later have the ability to remove myself from reality with my mind. Both a blessing and a curse.

Sometimes the mind wanders to great places and we imagine a life beyond perfection. Sometimes it takes us to the darkest corners of our subconscious revealing all our fears and reciting worst case scenarios and eventually projecting them in to our reality. Confirming to ourselves that indeed we were right. Everything is crap and going to go wrong.

But is life not what you make it? What would life be if I had carried on writing? Where would I be if I had projected the positive side of my imaginings in to reality?

Because of course I didn’t. At a young age 13/14 I found alcohol, drugs and violence. My world became more and more centred around this. I was asked to leave school. I was always in fights. I was always pretending to be someone that really I am not.

I had found substances that could take me away from reality just as my imagination could and it was great. But it wasn’t, I left my adolescences with nothing but a reputation for being a bad girl and no direction in life.

For the next years following, I try to do ‘good’, I become a mother, I try to better myself and my career. I try to find happiness. But really I’m steering further and further away from my true self, from the little girl who could get lost in the words pouring on to the page.

A couple of years ago someone said ‘you have such a way with words, you should write a book!’ Ha! I thought. Me write a book? What would I even write about? Who gives a shit what I have to say? The thought of putting pen to paper and engaging my brain seemed exhausting.

But I was in the fog then. The daze of addiction and confusion. Like a caged animal desperately trying to break free, not understanding that I can simply nudge the cage door open and free myself. I’m not trapped in here at all. There is a greater world and life out there.

Now the fog is lifting and the words are back and it feels good. All my ‘sober lit’ is telling me to write and I’m thinking write what? Then it came to me like a flood I am the Sober Barmaid, I am going to write about this and me and my journey. Because it is important, to me.

Maybe some days I won’t want to write, in fact I’m sure there will be lots of those days that just getting through without having a drink will be an accomplishment. But right now writing feels good.

Maybe no one will read my words, other than my beloved (sober) Mum. Maybe they will. But that’s not important right now. It’s all about the beautiful journey ahead of me.

The Sober Barmaid x