Hello new world! I hope you are all trooping along in whatever new curciumstances you find yourself under in this COVID world. I myself have been on Maturnity Leave since Oct 2019 so I have been hiding at home with my new baby anyways so I am lucky enough to have not felt the impact as many have. Anyway without sounding too unsympathetic I am not here today to talk COVID, I am sick of it quite frankly.
Today I have made myself stop and write as I am extremely happy to say I have just been too busy to sit down and blog for weeks now! Why is this a good thing? Well since I was a young girl I have noted that all my journals are filled with only bad news. It seems I only really sit down to write when I need a good old pity party. Now don’t misunderstand me, the fact I get it all out on ‘paper’ is a great thing. What I have noticed is that it may be weeks, months or years between entries, and usually with the body of text being founded with somewhat negative impact. I just don’t seem to be drawn to jot down my happy feelings, I guess I just live them. I really should reflect more.
I travelled extensively in my early twenties and at the beginning I really tried to keep a travel journal – so I could encapsulate the wonderlust and magic you feel when exploring new and different parts of the world. This however was short lived as being a brave young explorer of new worlds quickly turned into being a booze hound backpacker as most backpackers are. This was fun I am not going to lie. However this does bring me to my point, the purpose I am here, my body of work with the negative impact, my drinking.
I am well into my 3rd month of sobriety. I do give myself a cosy pat on the back however it is true to say that the stars have aligned to help me this time around. Having the baby is obviously a huge motivation and although I tried to balance having a drink with being a new mum in the early days it was actually more effort than it was worth, babies are around the clock! But also this isolation the world is forced into, has paused all the well to do affairs that may have tempted me therefore cut me a nice bit of slack!
The exception here is my best friend, whom is a most fabulous wino and his fiance have been having the best little two man parties at their home. They have also discovered the Tick Tock App meaning every few days I get a front seat to all their hilarious shenanigans via 3 min videos. Now while this is genuinely a crack, up it pulls nay it jerks at my inside strings like snapping of a loose thread on your favourite cardigan. For multiple reasons, primarily because it makes me feel like I am in a dark hole all by myself watching through a tiny peephole and I will never feel light, warm and joyful again. And secondly because his partner and him get along like school friends where my man just would not get on the party train, when we first met we would drink all night together and listen to music until dawn, but turns out he wasn’t a big drinker after all and later in our relationship he would occasionally have 1 or 2 before seeking shelter from me. Also a major motivator to not drink.
Now I know from reading, this misconception that you feel as if you will never have fun again without alcohol will pass and you will learn to have fun a new way. A better way. It will be 100 times better. This is what I read. But it still simply does not seem real. Since my adolescence I have used alcohol as a crutch and cannot fathom how it will be. I don’t believe it. And because of this, deep down I secretly believe I will end up drinking again because of it. I see myself, wine glass in hand, mature, successful, finally able to hold my booze. … nah I don’t believe that either. So for now it is just day by day, month by month. I am not drinking today, this week or this month and the way I am feeling not even this year so that is a start.
Another little hurdle experienced this past month was ANZAC Day. Here in Australia, ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance and tribute to all Australian service men and women past and present. It stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. This day is of upmost importance in my family particularly my maternal side as my family history is a family at war as far back as WW1.
My Grandfather was the Master of Ceremonies for our town for many decades, meaning he would lead the guard in the town parade. He was the MC for the Dawn Service. He would attend all the local schools to deliver talks about the wars. He was the presedent of the Returns Soldiers League for decades. He was a local hero and a very highly respected man in our community and beyond.
Every ANZAC Day we rise before dawn to make the pilgrimage to the top on the largest hill intown as here layeth the War Memorial. After the dawn service we would retreat back home for a cuppa then meet down town promptly for beers at the RSL club and then watch the parade. Followed by more beers, games of Two Up and then more beers.
It is of course because we are Australian and this is how we honour the Anzacs that we can start drinking at sparrow fart and continue all day long no matter if it be Monday, Wednesday or Sunday. It is with pride and honour that we salute our ancestors therefore the all day booze fest is accepted and in fact expected. Especially in rural Australia. This is a tradition I have patriotically followed my whole adult life.
Since my beloved Grandfather past away 8 years ago. Our Anzac Days have been particularly deep and emotional as expected. Now without trying to depict my mother as the bad guy by any means here, she of course feels it most. Any mention of my Grandfather will see my mother raise her shoulder’s, look at you directly in the eye with such boldness the birds stop chirping and states, I am Jimmy Harper’s daughter.
Unfortunately in my family, all emotions happy, sad, nervousness, Thursdayitus are met with the warm and comforting embrace of the booze bottle so as you can imagine, the already inebriating actions of ANZAC Day have been amplified. Some years have been worse than others but it is fair to say we all keep a quiet eye on mum and follow her lead less we befall her broken heart.
So this year naturally I was nervous. Nervous not only knowing the Beer Monster would be dancing in front of me all day. Knowing I may deal with my mum’s reactions differently. But also because her and I have not had the conversation about my sobriety yet. I was her enabler and she was mine. In the past she has very point blankly not supported my decisions to not drink and so this time around I simply havn’t told her. This has made me feel stronger as I don’t need her approval but also devastated because I need her support. The times we have been together in the past few months and I have opted for lime and soda, it has been been met with a quick, crisp and obvious urgent action to go fuss with something. I guess she isn’t ready to discuss it either.
People I am here to report once again I have been gobsmacked by how easy and delightful a dreaded situation turned out to be.
We rose at dawn and made our pilgrimage to our memorial, now this was a slightly quicker walk as this years COVID restrictions meant that all services were to be conducted at home, in your driveway! We opted for the east facing balcony of my parents home. As I held my baby boy sleepy and snuggled tight in my arms the cool morning air tickled my face and I heard my Grandfathers beloved chuckle dancing on the wind as the sun rose. As we stood there in silent donning his honorable medals the most magic sound started to drift from the town. Solo bugelists were playing The Last Post from somewhere down below. As the sacred notes hit our ears my mother and I began to weep. We wept with broken hearts for our hero, and for all the heros. We wept with tears of pride at our small community as it still came together with unwavering patriotism to those who lost their lives to give us our freedom today. We wept with happiness as we knew how much my Grandfather would have enjoyed the bloody good turn out and finished in laughter at how odd things can be very special.
Next my father whipped up a Gunfire Breakfast on the BBQ and we ate like kings. With every breakfast beer scoffed by my parents, I inturn scoffed down an Anzac Biccy or a big warm piece of Maple Damper from the camp oven. As the morning set in and the sun tickled our shoulders, we laughed and reminissed. Then all 4 of us wandered inside with full bellies and cuddled up for a day nap. And that was that. It was a truely wonderful day.
Lest We Forget.