Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Cancer Clinic



Today was the day of my check-up at the cancer clinic - two years after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

When I was drinking, if I was scared about something I would - obviously - use booze to dampen down any trepidation.

Since I quit, I've learned all sorts of way more effective strategies for dealing with fear.

So today, I dressed in bright red - the colour of battle, the shade that says "f**k you, cancer, don't even think about it."

Then, as I did back in the early days when I was facing down the wine witch, I used visualisation.

I imagined that I was Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, preparing for battle with my army of Unsullied.

I pictured myself as Wonder Woman, with her fabulous metallic corsetry and magic bracelets.

I strutted out of the house and, although I actually took the London Underground (District Line), pictured myself on the back of a dragon, bearing down on the Breast Unit.

I went in for my mammogram.

I did not feel at all sorry for my left boob, as they squished it flat as a pancake into the mammogram machine.

You deserve that for trying to kill me, Lefty, I thought.

(Is it normal to harbour resentment for one of your own body parts? I suspect not...)

Then I had to sit, for quite a long time, in the waiting room, for the consultant to give me the verdict.

Gradually, as the clock ticked on, my dragons flew away, followed by the feckless Unsullied. My magic bracelets reverted to plain metal, and I was left a rather terrified ex-lush housewife.

Finally, I was called in, to be told that ALL WAS WELL.

I was reminded of a phenomenal video of Will Smith talking about fear. He says: "On the other side of maximum fear are all the best things in life."

The Will Smith video is going up on the SoberMummy Facebook Page today - if you're ever afraid of anything (and who isn't?) then do watch it.

(Click here to go to the SoberMummy Facebook page, 'like' the page to stay updated).

Thank you all, so much, for all your thoughts and good wishes - they made all the difference in the world.

Love SM x

Monday, 20 November 2017

Fingers Crossed


You know how life spins out, everything trundling along just fine, and then something really awful threatens to happen, right out of the blue?

Maybe it's a health scare, or something wrong with one of your children, parents or friends, a redundancy or relationship break-up.

Then you find yourself doing a deal with the universe. You say things like if I get through this terrible time, then I promise I will never, ever take things for granted again. I will always be grateful for the stuff that really matters, and I will be a GOOD person, for ever and ever.

(Or is it just me who does that?)

Anyhow, a few weeks down the line, the potential disaster dealt with or averted, then forgotten, and - sure enough - you're back to stressing about the things that don't matter and forgetting to be grateful for the things that are genuinely important, like your family's health, a roof over your head and food on the table.

Well, the handy thing about having had breast cancer is that you are never, ever allowed to forget. Because every few months, a letter arrives in your post box telling you that you have a mammogram, or an ultrasound or a blood test, to check that your boobs haven't decided to try to kill you again, or - even worse - that some pesky cancer cells haven't cropped up in your bones, or your lungs or your brain.

Tomorrow I have to go back to the cancer clinic for my two year check-up.

So, to distract myself from feeling terrified, I am reminding myself to feel grateful.

Grateful for a wonderful two years which I might not have had. Thankful for any more time I'm allotted which I can spend helping shepherd my children towards being proper, well-rounded and happy grown-ups, and making some fabulous memories for them.

(Yesterday, I got to celebrate my eldest turning fourteen. There was a time when I thought I might not be able to do that.)

It's also a great time to feel grateful for being sober. Because the truth is that when you drink to numb all the difficult stuff in life, you numb all the good stuff too. And I don't want to miss a single minute of it.

If you have a spare moment, please keep your fingers crossed for me.

And here's some really HAPPY NEWS! Ang75, who many of you know from her comments on this blog, is ONE YEAR SOBER TODAY! Happy Soberversary Ang. You are amazing. Have a truly wonderful day.

By the way, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page, a lovely post from Club Soda on what children say when their parents quit drinking.

(Click here, to go to the Facebook page, 'like' the page if you want to stay updated).

Love SM x




Friday, 17 November 2017

3 Reasons Why Dogs are a Sober Girl's Best Friend



Yesterday, I was reading the incredible story of Mali - the special forces dog who's just been awarded a medal for bravery after sniffing out explosives and Taliban insurgents during a seven and a half hour gunfight in Kabul.

A grenade badly injured Mali's belly and legs, blew out a tooth and damaged his right ear, but still he kept going, being hoisted from one building to the next in a sling on his handler's back.

This story reminded me how incredibly loyal, brave and clever our furry friends can be.

The picture on this post is my scruffy terrier, Otto. He's not as well trained as Mali (in fact, he's barely trained at all), but he's my hero, nonetheless.

He sat by me, literally, his head on my tummy, as I recovered from treatment for breast cancer. And he was my very best sober buddy.

Here are three reasons why dogs are a sober girl's best friend:

1. They get you outside

However much you might want to hunker down at home and mope, your four legged companion is going to stare at you with those big, brown (unless you have a Husky) eyes until you take them out for a walk.

This is a very good thing, as exercise - especially outdoors - is incredibly good for your mental health, which is why the Japanese are so obsessed by what they call 'forest bathing.' It reduces stress and anxiety and boosts all your happy hormones.

Also, walking outside gets you away from all those booze-associations - the fridge, the wine rack, your favourite armchair, etcetera ad infinitum. Even I never took alcohol with me on a dog walk, even in the baddest of bad days.

2. They are masters of mindfulness

One of the best ways to get through the early days of sober is 'mindfulness': concentrating on the present moment and not worrying about not drinking forever and ever or what sins you might have committed in the past.

But mindfulness is incredibly hard. Which is why you need your own furry mindfulness guru to hand.

Dogs only live in the moment. They remind you of all the incredible things happening right now under your very nose. The thrill of a new path, splashing through mud, having a cuddle.

Just look at how much your dog loves life and you realise that booze really isn't necessary in order to discover joy in the everyday.

3. They love you, whatever, unconditionally

By the time most of us quit drinking we can be pretty hard on ourselves. We spend an awful lot of time examining our flaws and fretting over past misdemeanours.

Our dogs remind us that we are completely loveable, imperfections and all. They don't judge, they just lick.

If you don't have a dog already, then think of all the money and time you'll be saving by not drinking and consider spending some of it on a new friend.

Don't buy a puppy, find a rescue dog. A dog who deserves a second chance at life and a whole load of love, just like you do.

Please tell me about your own furry friends in the comments below....

By the way, new on the SoberMummy Facebook page: some inspirational wisdom from Winne-the-Pooh, and the story of Robert Downey Jr, and how he beat his addictions. I wonder if he has a dog.

(To go to the Facebook page, click here. 'Like' to stay updated).

Love SM x