Accelerate; brake

At the grand age of 31, I am learning to drive! I first started 18months ago, when pregnant with C (and when I started this sober stretch). It’s been on and off, but I’ve recently started back up again with a new instructor, and have been doing a 2-3 hour lesson a week.

I enjoy it. I love to learn. I love the quiet time. I love the feeling of doing something just for me, away from the house, the kids, the work.

But.

It’s showing me the harder and less favourable sides of my personality too. I’m incredibly frustrated with myself if I make a (what I perceive) to be a silly mistake. I can then get distracted because I’m too busy dwelling on that mistake. I get flustered when I’m embarrassed (from making a mistake). I procrastinate a lot (from changing address on my licence, to booking my tests, to actually revising for said tests). I’m very hard on myself, and will quietly brood about a bad lesson for ages, even if I’ve had some really positive aspects to it.

My last lesson was one such example. Previously, my instructor and I had discussed that if this lesson went well, and I drove consistently, we would be heading to the city in which I’d be taking my test to practice test routes. This is a big deal, as I live in the country and so this signifies a huge step in terms of progress and my driving ability. 

So of course… I stalled, holding up traffic. I rolled back, I attempted some things at the wrong speed, or gear. And then mentally fell apart as I knew I was messing up the basics, which we’ve covered often and I’ve done well at. Needless to say, the decision was taken to delay our city driving (which I completely understand, and appreciate his decisions. I trust his judgement and know I am learning well overall with him). And I was gutted. I haven’t written this before because I was ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed with myself. Ah, self flagellation, we meet again.

Once again, I’m trying to learn from this experience and not get hung up. There’s positives here, and were in my lesson too – my approach and perspective needs to change. Because I

  • Didn’t give up, or throw my toys out of the pram. I continued to try, and owned my errors and reasons why
  • Didn’t get angry, or turn into a spiky, defensive ball
  • Listened to and accepted criticism
  • Actually aced a number of manoeuvres (reverse bay parking, parallel parking, reversing around a corner and 3 point turn)
  • Was honest about my feelings 
  • Booked three lessons in advance, and asked for advice on how to improve
  • Thanked my instructor for his patience, time and honesty, and reiterated that I feel I learn well with his teaching.

These may seem like small things. But it’s a huge leap forwards in terms of how I would have handled it two years ago, in active addiction. So, there is no such thing as a bad lesson, as I’m showing progress each week, even if it’s personal growth rather than driving ability. And I remind myself that each lesson is a step towards a goal that I will achieve, no matter how long it takes me. I’m not giving up.

And it’s the same with life – sometimes you take a step back, or stumble, or take an unexpected turn. Sometimes we go back on ourselves and need to pick ourselves up, refocus, take smaller steps. But that’s ok too, as long as you keep moving. The trip from A to Z might sound easy, but there’s still a whole number of stops and letters as part of that journey.

Birthdays

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?

Learning to love my face…

And other body parts. And my soul, and personality too, of course, but my god we’d be here all day. So we’ll stick with my glorious mug, and it’s features.

Generally, I’m the most content I’ve been with myself and appearance for a long time. I used to pore over my reflection, with a list of faults and flaws and feel disgusted. Tears of revulsion, forever self conscious. Full mask of make up at all times, immaculate outfit, I even had plastic surgery (ten points to whoever guesses the procedure!)  I thought everyone could see the gargoyle that I was convinced I was, and of course this added to crippling low self esteem, self doubt and awful self worth. Which went on to fuel a love of alcohol… and we all know how that turned out.

But lately, I’ve felt settled with how I look. I can see myself, in all its glory (?) and be ok with it. There’s still bits I’d rather were different, but overall I’m happy with my lot. I’ll leave the house cosmetic free, and happily lay on the war paint at other times, but I don’t feel it’s necessary to do it. I don’t obsess, or feel ill, or hate myself anymore. 

Then occasionally, I’ll be taken aback by a photograph, or reflection, and think ‘man. I look so old/tired/hideous.’ Pretty standard stuff, I know, and a beauty regime of three hours broken sleep a night plus a vat of caffeine each morning does not hasten a glowing complexion or fabulous all natural appearance. I know this. I know I’m getting older, too, and I’m usually thrilled and excited by this (given I genuinely never thought I’d see in thirty, every day is a blessing to be thankful for).

But still. I scrolled my instagram feed and literally froze. I look old. Tired. Haggered, even.  Bad photo…? Perhaps. But I also know my skin is changing, I’ve wrinkles and deepening lines, and let’s not talk about the many strands of glitter that spout from my aging scalp (why are they coarse too? Different colour is fine, but a different texture too?! Come onnnn!)

And I realised, it’s not really that I’m sad to be getting older, or looking older. Not really. It’s a reminder that I’ve wasted so many years of my life – literally pissed them away. And spent them being so unhappy – with myself, my relationships, with every car crash situation I veered into drunkenly. I didn’t make the most of my younger years, at all. And I now wear my resentments on my face, seemingly – I have more frown lines than l have laughter lines. My face is settling into a rather stern, worried expression. Which again, makes me a little sad. I spent many years worrying, anxious, sneering and cross. It feels like I am literally wearing the hangover from those days.

So. I am not wallowing in this revelation. Or making silly resolutions or booking madcap treatments. I may treat myself to a fancier face cream/moisturiser/sun block, and dye my hair. But mainly, I’m resolved to laugh more. To smile more, to make sure that the next set of wrinkles and lines are a result of the happiness I feel. Bring on the crows feet from laughing so hard I can’t breathe, from squinting at the sun going down, from smiling at my blessings in life (of which I have many). Let my face, body and soul free of worry and frowns! I’ve always believed the happiest people are the most attractive, and I’m determined to wear my joy for life with pride. I have years to live, make the most of and enjoy, and I’m hopeful that will reflect as I get older. I am lucky enough to love, and be loved. I’m content. 

And in the meantime, there’s always make up and a bloody good filter on an off day.

Let’s start with coffee…

Is there a better thing than a perfect cup of coffee? I only started drinking it after the birth of my first born, blearily blinking at the boxes in the cupboards, praying for something to keep me awake, fire up my brain, remove the mombie curse. It didn’t work, of course, but a love affair began nonetheless. Now, we have a minimum stock level for the house (also frozen peas. Everything else is negotiable, but there must be at least two bags/tins of both). As always, I’m spiralling off subject. Please, sit and have coffee. Let’s talk.

So, I finally started a blog! Thanks for visiting. Whether it’s curiosity, a search error, a pity search (bless her), a sneaky spy or because you’re genuinely interested, I thank you. I’ve no idea what I’ll mainly use this for, but I haven’t written in such a long time and I feel now is the right time. There’s something so soothing about writing – it helps get me out of myself. I can be self indulgent on a page, rather than in my own head! 

So. I’m a thirty something wife, mother, daughter, dog mom, alcoholic. I wear all these titles with pride, but some fit better than others. I’m still learning to style some, and have yet to find the perfect footwear to help me tie it all together and pull it off. I also know there’s a bit part for me in life that’s missing, just out of reach. I’m learning the lines and the steps but not sure what play I’m in. I’m sure it will all come together eventually. 

I’m still figuring out what I enjoy. I don’t really have hobbies, as such. I used to have lots, and a huge amount of interests too but they were all linked into a reason/excuse to drink. And so here we are. I enjoy cooking, reading, and long walks in the forest. I love to feel the rain on my face, hear the crackle of twigs beneath my feet, and see nothing but woodland and moss. Or toss pebbles into the sea, collecting stones with my son so we can paint them later (of course, we never do. They live in a bucket and he screams bloody murder if they are removed for longer than five seconds). I am usually on a tightrope of procrastination and cramming so much into my day I can barely breathe. I juggle – people, chores, needs, wants – daily, mostly unsuccessfully. I suspect all of us feel we are falling short there, or dropping the balls often.

But this, this little corner of the internet, is one less procrastination. One less promise uttered but never kept. I’ve stopped talking about blogging and started, with one little step – this. And all great things (and mediocre things, to be truthful) begin with one little step forward. Let’s see how far these tired feet can carry me.