It was only recently that it occurred to me that mum had very clearly been a veil of protection against my dad and his gas lighting, narcissist and manipulative behaviour.
Of course, some stuff seeped through, that was inevitable but the tide of it was always kept at bay by the strength of my mum.
But she eventually reached a point of no return, she had probably spent a very long time telling him she wasn’t happy, and his response would have been one of complete denial that anything was wrong and that whatever she was feeling is in her head and therefore not real. He would have used us as a ploy to keep ‘his family’ together.
When she left, the veil went with her and we we’re suddenly exposed, like someone had taken away our sunblock and we we're frying in the heat.
She left because she had to, and we stayed because we we’re his leverage.
So, we coped. We we’re in full on survival mode, and when you are raised that way you tend to take that survival mode into your adult life as well.
The one good thing about that, I already had a full arsenal. Dealing with sugar and booze cravings was going to be much easier for me, because I already knew how to cope with stuff.
Since coming home from work and automatically popping into the shop for a bottle of wine was so ingrained in me, I assumed this would be a very tricky habit to break. I had several plans locked in for this situation. Things like, anything you need from the shop get on the way in to work, not on the way out. Your less likely to buy wine that way. Or if I did find myself in a shop, buy something else. Don’t go past the wine isle. I had also tried to plan a route where I would avoid all shops on the way home.
So, I was ready for it. In the first week of my detox, whilst at work it got to about 20 minutes before the end of my shift and I thought ‘oh I’ll buy a bottle of wine on the way home’ then immediately thought ‘hang on, no I won’t’. And that was that. I corrected my thought process (thank you CBT) and then moved on to finishing my end of day report.
42 days later, roughly 6 weeks in and I was flying. I didn’t crave booze; I didn’t miss booze and I hadn’t had a single episode of anxiety since I started. This fact was all the motivation I needed to keep going and not drinking.
And then it happened.
There I was sat on my sofa, I’d put my coffee moka pot on the stove, sipping my water with lemon in it and my mind drifted. I came back to the room when I could hear the moka pot hissing away. As I poured the coffee my daydream came into focus in my head and it floored me.
I had just drifted off into my own world for the best part of 10 minutes, thinking about sandwiches. Not wine, not even liquorice. Just sandwiches.
Another 10 minutes passed, I was sipping my coffee and subconsciously I picked up my phone and began looking at images of sandwiches. It was food porn. Honestly, I couldn’t make myself stop – what would be my bread of choice, my ideal fillings? Would I go hot sarnie or cold sarnie, with soup or without. Every time I caught myself thinking about it, I tried to think about something else anything else. I even tried to think about my ex-boyfriend as an alternative to sandwich fantasies and not even that worked. Well actually it did sort of work, because when I realised that not even the man that I had so recently been in love with and imagining my future with, could distract me from sandwiches. I suddenly wondered if my heart had properly begun to heal. And then I thought about cheese on toast with marmite (not technically a sarnie I know).
It reached a point where I was even boring myself with this obsession. But there we’re so many more variables to a perfect sarnie than there was a perfect wine drinking experience.
With the latter you pretty much had to choose your wine and your location. For me that would be Malbec, in a log cabin in front of the roaring fire when it’s snowing outside with my favourite book. (Which for your reference is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein).
But with a sarnie, I mean the location would generally be the same, that or a beautiful beach at sunset. But the actual sarnie – super tricky to decide. What bread? Cold or hot? What main fillings? Which by the way is the exact reason why I hate Subway. I feel like I’m somewhat on trial. Having said that, I think one of the things that stopped me from giving in to this craving was because I couldn’t decide on what my ideal sandwich would be.
It did help my training though. Roughly six weeks into running, I had added interval training, but was also still trying to complete the route I had set out on New Years Day.
I completely got distracted by my sarnie fantasy that I had ran the entire route and stopped outside my flat somewhat confused as to how I had got there, suddenly realising that I ran the entire route. For the first time, I hadn’t stopped once to walk.
The last time I had hit through the walking barrier had been back in 2011. I had started training for Brighton Marathon 2012, and couldn’t yet run a mile. Then one Sunday morning I passed a jogger whom I thought was rounding the corner to use the same route as me. My ego kicked in and I didn’t want to stop with a runner behind me, so I kept going. I completed the 1 mile.
On both occasions the curve in training after this point was exponential. The second I knew I could run the route, I did it again and much, much faster. Then I increased it.
My sarnie fantasies didn’t really go away, but I sort of didn’t want them to, because I found an outlet for them. It could help my mind wonder, whilst running which made it much easier to cover greater distances. It also kind of helped me with a new problem. Too much brain space. I was becoming increasingly bored a lot.
You see, my hours at work are Monday to Friday 1330 to 2100. My weekday mornings, in my drinking days we’re basically sleeping in, waking up feeling like crap. Being so distracted by feeling like crap and only having an hour to sort my self out and take Flash out. The mornings would be a blur, work would be work and then I’d buy a bottle of wine on my way home, and that would be me for the evening. Slowly getting drunk on my own.
Now that I wasn’t drinking, and my withdrawal symptoms had been replaced with bags of energy, clear skin and brilliant nights sleep, I was waking up at 0700 wide awake and feeling great. I would have about 6 hours of morning. Even though by now I was doing some form of exercise and taking flash on a much larger/longer walk, I was still twiddling my thumbs before I was due in for work. So, for a while constantly thinking about sarnies was OK because otherwise, I was bored.
This of course could not last for long, I mean how weird would it be if my new hobby was thinking about sandwiches? But it did fill a void for a spell.
I started thinking about what else I could be doing. Crochet, I had taken up crochet to try to distract myself from feeling anxious, and now it would help me from feeling bored. It was good because it helped me practise the stitches I had learnt, and I started making the odd thing here and there. Of course, once I got good at this, I didn’t need to think about each stitch and there I was back to square one.
My friend, who will remain anonymous gently suggested I ought to get out more. I got snotty with him, began listing all the things I did. Even when I was, I realised that everything I was listing was a solitary activity. I had lost touch with some friends, and others had moved away. I didn’t really have much in the way of socialising other than spending time with my sister and her boyfriend. I conceded he was right.
I researched into volunteering. I also thought maybe I’ll rejoin the gym. I mean I’d still be on my own, but I would be in a room with people.