Yesterday afternoon we made the long drive back home. Clothes, toys, books, sand, dogs, chocolate, children and adults all crammed into one VW-Golf. The drive was fine – frustrating in parts with tourists who can’t seem to cope with the twisty country roads and slam their brakes for an on-coming bicycle, but we were home before long.

Usually – in fact so usually that I can’t remember a time it hasn’t happened since the children were born – usually on a return from this journey, my first stop is the shop for a bottle (or two) of wine, to help me wind down. My intention, ostensibly, that it will “help” me get through the unpacking and sorting of dirty, sandy clothes from the rest, dealing with whatever bins we forgot to empty before we went, whatever food was accidentally left out, etc.

In actuality what has tended to happen is that I sit down to watch some tv with “one” glass, that turns into 2 or 3, get maybe one load of washing on, and by the time the children are in bed, I’m just about fit to gobble some take-away and crash out myself.

So, no wine this time. No, I didn’t want it. Yes, I did think about it. In fact I was thinking a lot about it yesterday evening.

We came home to three dead fish. Still feeling quite a bit sad about that, actually. We don’t know what happened; my husband’s aunt had come in to check on them and reported their were fine. We’d left them “holiday” food that is mean to dissolve in the water and keep them fed for up to two weeks, and had bought them a shiny new more powerful filter…. Anyway. It looks like maybe the holiday food didn’t dissolve properly. And two of the poor little creatures were floating up the top, blind white eyes bobbling as their little bodies were buffeted by the the filter bubbles. And one guy – our oldest fish – trapped in one of the ornamental caves.

It was a big clean up job.

Then I cleaned the kitchen.

Washed and hung some clothes.

Put the children to bed – mostly successfully given they’d slept a solid 2+ hours in the car and were kind of hyper.

We did order take-away.

And when I sat down to eat, my whole home, that I’m usually so thankful to return to, just felt alien to me. I felt very out of sorts and I don’t know if it was the dead fish, or the lack of alcohol or the build up of clutter that I felt myself facing into for the week ahead.

So, I was thinking a fair bit about alcohol. I’m also reading The Girl on The Train which is definitely bringing some drinking visuals to my mind – though not positive ones! But all the same, I had a few of those memories – you know, the visual of sitting and relaxing with an aromatic glass of red, when you know you’re on holidays. The condensation on the outside of a cold glass of beer (to be honest, I’m struggling to even remember those positive visuals here and now in the morning) and I was wondering to myself if it meant that I wasn’t done, that I still had these positive recollections. Did I still think that alcohol had something positive to offer me? No. No, actually, what’s really easy for me to do is to compare it to smoking.

When I stopped smoking, I would still be triggered into feeling I wanted a cigarette in certain circumstances (and they weren’t always predictable circumstances!) and I would remember it with fondness. About 9 months after I stopped smoking for good I had a cigarette in someone’s house having been triggered by a stressful situation. Actually I only had a half a cigarette; it was so horrible. And now, 3, 4? I can’t even remember exactly! years later, there is no circumstance that would make me want to smoke. I really believe alcohol is going to go the same way as that for me.

And as for the alien feeling – it’s mostly dissipated this morning. When I finally climbed into bed last night, I had a thought that it was to do with happiness. When I had left this place I was stressed, unhappy (although I didn’t really recognise it as such at the time) and still a drinker. During the 10 days I spent away, so much changed. And I had really and truly become … actually not happy, but content.

So now I’ll get to experience my life in my own home in a content state, and I’m looking forward to that.

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