The Journey Begins…

IMG-0190

Me, Day 1. Make up cant hide the puffy, dark eyes

Last Monday morning at 6am I went insane and posted this on my personal Facebook page:

Ok accountantability post. Alcohol is no longer my friend. I’m sick to death of feeling like crap, the 3am sleeplessness, the weight gain, the absent parenting. I am good at 10 drinks, but no longer able to have just 1. I will not feel shamed, alcohol is a dangerous, addictive poison that we are duped into believing is the elixir of life. I guarantee I’m not the only one feeling this way. So, day 1 starts now. I vow to remain 100% booze free for 100 days. For those who have social plans with me coming up, don’t despair, I will still be social and fun, still have your wine with free abandon. I just won’t be talking stupid shit and will remember everything the next day ☺️❤️. Ok…. death breath…. hitting post. Wish me strength! 💪🏼

Aside from the obvious typos and autocorrects…. WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING??

Well, I was thinking how tired I was of waking up with the sweats at 3am then barely dosing until the morning. I was thinking how much I hate that I can’t seem to just have a couple of drinks and leave it at that. I was thinking how long I’ve been trying and failing to moderate. I was thinking how much I hate that my daughter is growing up with alcohol always as part of her environment. I was thinking about the Friday night before that I’d made a stupid, insensitive quip at my friends expense that was supposed to be funny but was so far from that. I was thinking about how for the last 3 months I’d successfully quit the Sunday to Thursday drinks, then Sunday snuck back in, then Thursday, and by Monday morning I’d had at least a bottle of wine or more for 4 nights in a row.

It’s time to address this. My Facebook post got 76 “reactions” and over 45 comments – waaaaay more than I’d get for the usual whinge about my life or picture of my kid. Mortifying. That post was unplanned and ill thought out, but now it’s out there.

To be fair, ALL the comments and reactions were positive;  incredibly, embarrassingly positive. Have all my friends known this all along and been waiting for me to realise it? To be honest, no, I don’t think that. I know that people are being kind, supportive friends.

So here I am, one week in to 100 days of sobriety. What most of those lovely Facebook supporters don’t know is that I’ve been leading up to this moment for a long time. I’ve always been one of the biggest drinkers of my various groups of friends. You could always rely on me to get on it with you, and I’ve always hated that about myself.

Last August, my Facebook feed popped up with an ad for a course called “This Naked Mind”. I clicked and signed up and have been immersed ever since in educating myself on the truth about alcohol. I’ve learned that trying to quit with will power is useless – you have to reprogram your subconscious.

It seems to have sunk in, as I’m now more determined and committed than ever before, and certainly not miserable about it, quite the opposite. This weekend I had 8 of my oldest friends come to stay loaded up with bottles and bottles of red wine. I’d be lying if I said that I went the whole time not wanting it, I certainly had my moments. But when the cravings came, I sat with them, said no, had no indecision and they passed.

And guess what? I had a ball. I belly laughed and bum danced and I remember it all. All the years I’ve been drinking with these lovely people, it turns out it’s my friends that are the fun part, not the wine. Who knew?

Today I’m excited and upbeat and strong. There’ll be bad days of course, but for now, it’s all good.

 

What the Hell Just Happened to our Dog?

I came home from work tonight tired and cranky. Andy is away as always during the week and I knew the fire would have gone out, it’s freezing here, and raining now and I dreaded getting home to the dog feeding frenzy, a freezing cold house,  lighting the fire, dinner, kids bath and bedtime. Any me time felt a long way off, and with Tippi sick this week, I’ve been unusually disturbed through the nights so I’m tired. And grumpy.

So grumpy in fact, that I took it out on Andy over the phone. I hated this farm tonight, it got to me as it does sometimes. I fed the dogs with more resentment than usual – no love for them as they wag their tails furiously in welcome – then headed inside to get the fire lit. ABC for Kids was on, but Tippi was chatty and laughing, feeling better after a few days of illness. I just wanted her to be quiet and watch TV.

At some point, I became aware that Jaq, our 3 (4?) year old kelpie was barking more than usual. She is a farm dog; an outside dog mostly, only coming in on occasional nights to sleep on the lounge room floor while we watch TV. She barks a lot – there’s a lot to bark at here. Wombats, kangaroos, rabbits, foxes, feral cats. We’ve got them all, and I go out several times a night to rouse on her and tell her to shut up.

But this was her different bark. I went outside, and here things are hazy. This wasn’t normal. She was under the veranda, scuffling, a high pitched yelp, desperate. It sounded like she was chasing something big. Then to the shed, yelping, banging, what was this creature she was chasing? I’d no idea what was going on, and I was scared. I rang Andy. What was getting her so worked up? I called her, to my surprise she came but she was manic. Under the veranda again, banging, yelping, high pitched, not her usual bark. I called her back again, she came. She was crazy, she was at the front door yelping, begging to be let inside. Andy, helpless from Brisbane, called our neighbour and told him to get over here.

I let her in the house. She ran from room to room, more yelping, she was terrified. Trying to sit, looking at me with imploring eyes; “help me” she seemed to be saying, “help me”. I looked all over at her, there were no obvious wounds, no blood. A vile stench that I couldn’t place. I tried to calm her, but I was scared of the wild look in her eyes. Tippi wanted to pat her, I yelled at her to get away. This wasn’t our dog, she’d lost her mind. Running, yelping, then into our bedroom and … silence.

I tentatively went in, Andy on the line. She was lying on our bedroom floor, still, foaming at the mouth, breathing only just. Then nothing. She was gone. Eyes open, glassed over, the most still she’s ever been. She’d died in that moment, terrified, on our bedroom floor.

I couldn’t help her.

Two hours later, I still can’t really process what happened. Maybe we’ll work it out, maybe we won’t. Tippi, surprisingly comprehending of the finality of death cried and cried. For the first time ever she turned down the icecream I’d dished out. She’s in bed now, fell asleep in under three minutes. Her first experience with loss, they were good buddies, Tippi and Jaq.

Tonight, when the world mourns the loss of a great actor and comedian, we also mourn the loss of Jaq, our very own Red Dog. She was Andy’s dog, and he is alone tonight in a hotel. The loss he must be feeling. I’ve never missed him more.

 

Is Katy Perry a Caterpillar?

Tippi chef

“Mummy”, Tippi said on the way to preschool this morning, “Is Katy Perry a caterpillar?”

“No, she’s a person who sings, why do you think she’s a caterpillar?”

“She just feels like a caterpillar, a purple one.”

“In what way, darling?”

“Well, she sounds like a caterpillar.”

Katy Perry…. caterpillar…. I can see where she’s coming from.

Escaping, The Build and The Kid

 

photo

Yesterday was overcast and rainy all day, then suddenly the sun popped out for a few minutes in the afternoon and threw out an amazing light, the whole place was literally luminous. In the country, there is always something interesting and beautiful happening in the sky.

Escaping

I think it’s essential that primary parents or care givers get some time out now and then, it makes them a better parent. I had my turn on the weekend when I drove solo to Sydney to have lunch at China Doll at the Woolloomooloo finger wharf with 2 girlfriends. We’ve been lunching together three times a year for over 20 years. Our lives are quite different, so it’s pretty much the only time we spend together, yet we know each other’s lives in detail including all our secrets. This time, we hadn’t caught up for over a year, and I don’t think we drew breathe for the 5 hours we were together. It was also heaven to eat Chinese – we tend not to with a peanut allergy child – and China Doll is bloody yum and the people watching is second to none as well.

I like my wine too much to then drive 2 hours home, so invited myself to stay at another girlfriends house for the night. Three of us – school friends from the 80s – drank more wine, devoured a cheese platter and shared the familiar banter that 30-something year old friendships allow.

The Build

slab

The slab is down – the first milestone reached. Apparently there’s a lull now while the steel gets fabricated, and we should have a frame in a few weeks.

Mum

Thinking about Mum a lot. She had her routine, post chemo blood test which showed an increase in cancer cells, dammit. Then a full body scan shows something sinister lurking in her spleen. She has no symptoms, so no treatment required just yet, but the doctors advised them to bring their trip to Europe forwards, as symptoms (and therefore more chemo) are probably only 2 months away. So next week they are off to England to see their 4 grandchildren, and my sister and BIL for 6 weeks, and all the time Mum has to try not to be thinking “shit, I’ve got cancer”, and not be terrified any time she gets a bit of indigestion.

The Kid

Speaking of Chinese, am nervous about 2 firsts happening this week with Tippi our 4 year old child with severe allergy to peanuts, and what was once a severe allergy to egg that now seems to be diminishing.

A couple of weeks ago, Tippi’s preschool teacher called me aside to tell me they were looking at Chinese culture, and wanted to take the kids to the local Chinese restaurant for lunch. For most people with a peanut allergy, Chinese is unthinkable. I would never consider it, and when the teacher raised it my heart started racing, and tears sprung to my eyes as I thought of Tippi’s devastation at missing out. She just loves eating out, we do it quite regularly and to eat out with her friends would be a dream. In that moment, I decided I would have to take the day off work and keep her home so that she was not left at the preschool when all her friends were playing grown ups at the restaurant.

As it turns out, the owner of the restaurant has a peanut allergy child, so I was willing to listen, and long story short have decided she can go, and I will go too. Tippi is so excited. Me? I’m shitting myself. This is FAR from comfortable. But various things I wont bore you with have lead me to allow it – I will be there with 4 epipens in my handbag, and my stomach in my mouth. I’m cross with the preschool – at which Tippi has been since she was 1 – for putting us in this position, however I do acknowledge that they are incredibly careful with allergies, there’s not been once incident in over 3 years and they wouldn’t do it if they weren’t completely comfortable. The preschool director goes to this restaurant with her nut allergy son.

On the upside – maybe we’ve found a safe Chinese restaurant, not something I ever thought I’d find, certainly not in the Southern Highlands.

And then, next weekend Andy and I are both leaving Tippi with my mum and dad for 2 nights as we go to the Yarra Valley for a weekend of frivolity with old, old friends most of whom I’ve known since we were kids. This is the first time in her 4 years she’ll be waking up without either of us, she’ll deal with that, although will no doubt kick up a little fuss.

It’s the food thing that worries me – Mum is careful but has made mistakes in the past (that have been caught just in time, so no disasters) and is pretty terrified of the epipen. We’ll be doing a full training session on epipen use for the 1034th time, and after that it’s up to Mum. Outings will be the hardest part – they cant stay home for 3 days, and Mum isn’t used to ordering for Tippi when out. Pack her food, mum, I will be requesting.

Anyhoo, I’m determined to go, trust, and have a wonderful time with my husband and lifelong friends whom I see only every few years these days. Kids are left with their grandparents all the time, Tippi adores hers and at the ripe old age of 4, she’ll cope. Wont she???

So I tentatively step in to this week of fearful firsts and tell myself that it will all be fine, and it’s worth it. Don’t make a liar of me please Universe

How do you go leaving your kids? Have you been able to escape lately?