Today I celebrate 20 days sobriety. I use the term celebrate loosely as I am truly not in a celebratory mood. It is Friday and Friday was always settle-down-early-with-some-wine-to-kick-off-the-weekend day. I am seriously mourning that day.
The day started off well enough. Woke up, not having had a good sleep, which is becoming a real problem for me (more of that later), but I felt good. The sun was shining, no college today and all was well in the world of me. I attended an AA meeting, which was stimulating and very enriching, went to lunch with some new friends from AA who counselled me and soothed my restless soul. This day was going so damn well. I looked up at the clear blue sky and truly felt blessed. So, why, just two short hours later am I feeling so wretched? What is it about that fatal elixir that is so alluring that I would be willing to give up all this love, compassion and human-ness that I haven’t felt in so long, in a heart beat.
Wondering around the shops, where I was meant to buy fruit and vegetables for the week, and instead came home with a deck of Angel cards, my mood decidedly started to decline. What was it that brought it on? I couldn’t tell you. All I can say is that somewhere during my car ride home (all of 15 minutes’ worth), I started fantasising about a cask (classy girl, me) of white wine with ice blocks clinking the sides of the glass as I poured it in. It is hot and on especially hot days I liked to pour a big glass (and when I say big, I mean the kind of wine glass that resembles a small fish bowl) of white wine, chuck in lots of ice and sit back into my chair sipping (and when I say sipping I really mean glugging, but let’s not get hung up on technicalities here) my chardonnay (that’s what I liked to call it anyway – again, people, technicalities!) and imagine I was in a completely different life.
Of course, I wouldn’t just stop at the first glass. Actually, I couldn’t just stop at the first glass, I HAD to go on to the second, third, fourth, etcetera, etcetera. I would sit for hours, praying neither of my children would bother me (and to their credit, they rarely did), and just drink and drink. I would watch those programs of ‘Get a new life in …” and wish that was me. It didn’t occur to me to think that in fact I had done the ‘Get a new life’ thing – twice. Once with a move to the UK and now with the move here to Melbourne four years ago. Gees, someone should mention when you apply for immigration that the grass is decidedly not greener on the other side!! They should let you know that when you move thousands of kilometers around the world, your problems tend to stick to you like feathers to tar; that no matter where you try to hide, you will one day have to face your demons in order to move on. I mean, really, there should be a warning, or something!
I have not faced my demons yet. I am not really up for it, if the truth be told. I have tried to tell myself that since I am sober now, I don’t have any problems, but I know this not to be the case hence the reason for my urge to drink now. I couldn’t tell you what is pushing my button right now – walking in and facing a messy house that hasn’t been hoovered in over three weeks doesn’t help, I can tell you. Actually, on that note, I used to blame my drinking for not doing the house work. Actually, that isn’t true. I used to blame my circumstances of my life for my drinking, which had the knock on effect of leaving me too exhausted to do the housework. I can’t use that excuse anymore. The simple truth is I am bloody lazy when it comes to housework.
It’s such a bloody thankless job. You get up, make the beds, tidy the kitchen, hoover the carpets, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, iron the laundry, pack and unpack the dishwasher ad infinitum only to have the family come home at the end of the day and mess up the kitchen, pile up the laundry, wee and god knows what else in the toilet, shower (how dare they), eat food which messes up the plates, and then to add insult to injury, they actually get into the beds that I spent a good half an hour making that morning. I mean, how much punishment is a woman supposed to take? I tell you, I give up. Correction, I gave up, long ago.
A few years ago, someone, one of those domestic goddess types (I would personally like to murder the person who coined that phrase, by the way), once told me that she doesn’t enjoy housework either but with every thing she did she imagined her family and the love she had for them. I was bemused by the correlation, but decided to try it out. I discovered that I simply don’t have that much love. Imagining that I was now not only a failure at the domestic goddess thing, I was also love-deficient for my family, I was racked with incredible guilt for days which, of course, led me to drink, drink, drink that feeling into oblivion.
So here I am, today, 20 days sober with chaos everywhere. By everywhere, I mean every-bloody-where. There are clothes on the floor in every room, dust on every floor and surface, laundry piled high, a dishwasher open waiting to unpacked, with at least two more loads waiting to be packed into it and not a single bed has been made (I mean, what’s the point really?). All this chaos would be okay if I was okay with it. But here is the kicker, I’m not. I like my world ordered and neat, but I don’t want to have to do it. Like I said, I realise that I am quite lazy when it comes to housework. In other areas, I have amazing motivation, will go to extraordinary lengths to get the job done, but housework? Housework be damned. Maybe this is why, walking into the chaos and having to face my own reality, I have the urge to drink.
So, what is it about alcohol is going to solve this problem for me? Well, it isn’t obviously. It is just an excuse – an excuse to pick up that first drink which I have been informed on good authority that if I don’t do, I will manage to keep sober and regain manageability of my life. If the truth is known I have been waiting for the domestic goddess in me to emerge. I figured that if alcohol was the reason that I had struggled so hard with this role in life, that life without it should make the role easier. I am a wife and mother and surely there should be some genetic wiring that kicks in to assist a wife and mother do what society imagines a wife and mother should do. I am pretty sure that even hard and fast feminists manage to keep their own homes in order. What is wrong with my wiring? Its apparent misplacement has really and truly annoyed me. When is the domestic gene going to come to the fore? I wonder if there is a test to see if I have it. I’m pretty sure I don’t.
I don’t even enjoy cooking. Yet, I have an ENORMOUS library of cookery books. I cannot pass a book shop without going in and either buying a self help book or more often than not, coming out with a cookery book. I never use them. I pretty much buy the same ingredients, and wing it on the night. My planning skills are not all that well honed (no time, needed to get down to the wine, you see), so I invariably forget to take meat out the freezer. This results in me defrosting it in the microwave to whines of hunger from the family, and literally throwing together something edible. My specialities are spaghetti bolognese (Mince meat, pasta sauce in a jar, an onion and pasta), Thai chicken curry (chicken pieces, onion, thai curry paste, coconut milk, frozen stir fry veg and noodles) and chilli con carne (mince meat, onions, red kidney beans in a tin, tinned diced tomatoes, chilli powder, tumeric, paprika, cumin and rice). As you can see, I’m hardly Jamie Oliver – but, you guessed it, I have three of his books and even downloaded his App to my iPhone at a cost of $7.99!
It is like if I am surrounded by all these things, I will become that which I am obviously not. Why is it that, at the age of 42, I am unable to accept this in myself. Does anyone care, really, if my house is not perfect (and by not perfect I mean a tip that people have to wade through to make it to the kitchen, but again, technicalities people)? I keep telling myself that I have yet to come across a tomb stone that reads, “Here lies Mavis who was the worst housewife you could ever meet.”, or “Here lies Jane whose cooking was really quite bland”, but for some inexplicable reason, I feel totally inadequate as a wife and mother.
I wish I could say that at least I have a career. But I simply don’t. I used one excuse after another, I now realise, not to finish any of the countless courses I embarked upon, or stay very long in any job – my record is nine months. Somewhere, in the recesses of my brain, I figured I would be a wife and mother. That is the most important job in the world, after all, isn’t it? I mean, we are nurturing the world’s future generations here, and by doing so, shaping the world’s future, aren’t we? Oh God, I’m running out of time. Our eldest DD is leaving at the end of the year and our youngest DD is 12. What shaping have I done? What have I taught them? Certainly not how to keep a clean house and cook nutritious bloody meals, that’s for sure. And yet, my quest for domestic goddess membership continues. It’s exhausting I tell you.
So, another lesson learned whilst typing this blog. I’m lazy, hate housework and am never going to be a domestic goddess. Another thing mourned. I’m wondering when I am going to allow myself to celebrate the person I am and the contribution I must make in some form to the universe. I mean, I can’t just be some drunk suburban housewife who hasn’t passed on any skills to her offspring, can I? There has to be more to life than that surely? I have to have come to the realisation of my alcoholism for some purpose, surely. I don’t want to end my journey in this realm without having made some valid contribution. I thought being a domestic goddess might validate who I am, but it isn’t working. I have to find something else and then earn enough money to hire a cleaner and someone to do the goddam ironing 🙂
My journey continues and just for today, I will not pick up that drink!