It was recently my birthday and I had a wonderful few days. I was especially thrilled to be able to finally feel I was in my thirties (I turned 31). I’ll pause here so anyone younger can gasp in horror, and anyone older can eye roll indulgently.
The truth is, I didn’t think I’d ever be celebrating. I thought I’d be dead before thirty. And while this all sounds very melodramatic, I was certain of it.
Last year, I was asked what I’d be doing to mark the big ‘3-0’, and given that I was hugely pregnant, live a considerable distance away from my family and also that I wasn’t drinking (they thought for pregnancy only), I managed to escape a big party. In reality, I didn’t want to plan anything because I was still sure I was on borrowed time. I was expecting something to happen that would mean I shuffled off my mortal coil before the big day. A killer hangover from my drinking days.
How I survived some of my binges, I’m not sure. Not only the sheer amount of alcohol consumed, but the reckless behaviour and silly, dangerous decisions that went along with it. I’m incredibly lucky that no real harm ever came to me, or others around me. I thought the alcohol poisoning alone might finish me off a few times. Rode it out at home, alone, rather than visit the hospital, as that way it meant I didn’t have a serious drinking problem! See, I’m absolutely fine! Shaking, hot flashes, puking purple, then green, unable to keep fluids down, head and eyes hurting so much I could hardly move. Hallucinations, drifting in and out of heavy sleep, groggy, praying that if this is it can I please go soon, so I don’t have to get through much more. It took a week to get through one such instance, and probably meant I set a milestone for sobriety at that time. Not that I wanted that, mind. I was waiting to feel gingerly ok for the next drink.
My husband has since told me there are a few times he sat next to me the whole night after I (inevitably) blacked out, too frightened to sleep for fear of what he might wake up to. Wondering at what point he needed to call for medical help, and hating that my inebriated behaviour that night could be his last memory of me.
And then, I stopped drinking. After many false starts, many relapses, many false promises. Baby steps, a day at a time, started to add up. I started to understand the importance of emotional sobriety too, and working towards that. Surrounded myself online with people that inspired me, that made me want to be better, that had their shit together enough to own it, mistakes and all. I still surround myself with these, my people, my posse, and love them deeply. I couldn’t do it alone.
The feeling of dying before thirty didn’t pass though. Instead, I became more certain – the drunken fear became a real one, as I realised that the abuse I’d subjected my body to must come with some consequences. I fretted about links to cancer, and convinced myself it would happen. I deserved something to happen. I should have a consequence for my drinking days.
Incidentally, my thirtieth came and went, with only a few contractions to mar it. And then I gave birth, and had my hands full with not a lot of time for melancholic indulgence.
I thought about it this year, though. Only in passing, and shared with my husband. Didn’t dwell. Because really, all we ever really have, is the moment we’re in, here and now. We can do our best to look after ourselves, of course, but anything can happen at any point to anyone (whether we consider it fair, or not).
It’s another reminder for me that it’s so important I keep it in the now. Today is a gift – I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. So, enjoy, no projecting to the future. And just take it a day at a time. It is what it is. What will be will be. Let’s just try to enjoy the ride, shall we?