How do you relax the therapist enquires, pen poised to record my response to yet another soul delving question.
“I drink a glass of wine… maybe a bottle.”
I watch her face to see the reaction, the tiniest indication, in the flicker of an eye or the spasm of a muscle to reveal her thinking. “You skanky useless mother, or you overgrown good time party girl, give it up, it’s embarrassing, pathetic even”
She lifts her head and smiles softly “ I know” she says “ it can be a release”.
“I don’t like it though, I want to be able to relax but find it really hard and so I resort sometimes to what I know”
“I can help you with that” she replies.
I decide a trip to the Zoo would be a good day out for us, we’ve not been for a long time and fun day with the boys is what I need. Daddy is going to the cricket, so instead of going it alone, a far too daunting a task, I commandeer granny into our trip. We rise early, make sandwiches and set off. The boys are in good spirits and excited at the prospect of the animals we are going to see, meerkats, monkeys, tigers and lions. I remain upbeat, even with one small upset in the car, one of my pet hates because it’s so hard to control a situation when you’re driving, and don’t they know it, but we get through arriving just as the gates open.
As we move between Rhino’s and Painted Dogs, Otters and Butterflies, my motherly instinct to be on guard is by my side throughout. Born of the knowledge, and painful experience, that in any given moment one or other of my children could dive head first into a pattern of undesirable behaviour, to me vigilance is key. The firmness of my stance requires tight shoulder and an over active mind, seeking out our next possible downfall. Could it be that wasp buzzing around our sandwiches or the decision to see the Orangutans before we head to the gift shop? It is a long day but it passes without any major incidents, we actually quite enjoy ourselves.
By the time we open our front door my shoulder are knotted so tightly I swear they are brushing my ear lobes, I instantly reach for a glass of wine, bark some orders about behaving “or else” and run myself a bath. I escape into a mound of bubbles and steam luxuriating over every silky mouthful of wine and I feel a little relaxed.
Next day the empty bottle sits by the sink as I rub my eyes and consider my head and I trying to focus on the task of making packed lunches. I’m annoyed with myself. Why did I need to do that? We had a good day, it was enjoyable wasn’t it? But actually it wasn’t that enjoyable for me. I’ve become so uptight around my children that I struggle to enjoy them and the time we spend together. My confidence in them and my own ability to “cope” with them is so thin on the ground that I assume and think the worst at all times, and I therefore never enjoy the moment.
I recently, well over a year ago, gave up alcohol for a year hoping to solve all my worldly problems with this heroic act. I lasted eight and a half months before an almighty ball of family trauma, engulfed in stress, knocked me sideways into a glass of wine. I was miserable a lot of those eight and a half months and I now understand why. I spent all eight and a half months consumed by stress, anxiety, worry and more stress. Without my wine induced world of escape, there was no escape, I found no other escape and I still don’t know what that other escape might be.
I have however recognised I can’t continue with the uncertainty I feel in parenting my children, and I have therefore sounded the alarm. Post Adoption Social Services are on board and referrals have been made for other agencies who can hopefully offer support.
I am not the in any way hovering over a bottle of wine each evening, in fact on the most my time of abstinence has brought greater caution and self awareness, but yes I still enjoy a drink or two at the right time and maybe occasionally the wrong time.
And then there is the therapist, pen poised, and taking notes. I like her; I really believe she might be able to help me. I need confidence again, I need reassurance, I need strategies, I think she might be able to give these too me.
Do you know that feeling of having wondered so far from the path that you are lost? Me too. But do you know the feeling of taking a turning that suddenly feels that you might be facing in the right direction again, yes, that’s how I feel right now. I’m ever hopeful that we are back on track and heading towards a place that is happier, and even more hopeful that I’ll find relaxation there too.