The Guilt of Happiness

Day 29: On paper I should be in a good place. It’s the Cheltenham Festival this week and as a huge fan of horse racing I look forward to these four days every year. Feel a bit down though. Last few days. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting on my own in the house watching it whilst drinking water and coffee instead of Guinness and Jamesons’ in a pub?!

I’m on Day 29 of being sober and my 20th day out of hospital. I am pleased with my progress and in the main I haven’t struggled with keeping off the booze but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it a little over the last few days. The being alone during the day, the frustrations of being a parent (mornings and evenings can be a stress) and the fact I was very dependant on alcohol up until my admission into the mental health hospital. I know it will be a long path and there will be bumps in the road – that is what I keep saying to myself. And as I type this I’ve had two horses win at the Festival this afternoon! My football team won a Cup Final at Wembley on Sunday and I am 1lb away from losing a stone since the start of 2021.

My problem, and maybe a common problem in humans is I struggle to enjoy the good times. I will enjoy an immediate moment like a horse winning a race, losing weight on the scales or finishing a morning run, but the darkness is never far away in my head and it is as if I should be made to feel guilty for being happy!

I’m going back to work on Monday. That will help me for routine. I’ll be working from home (as I have since Feb 2020) but it will give me structure and purpose Monday to Friday. I’m looking forward to it and I know I will be supported.

So anyway, I’ve been listening to a lot of music of late. I go through phases and have quite a broad taste in music (I listen to Classic FM in the car, I listen to Rammstein when I’m running and I love Country Music!) I thought I’d share “Happy Daddy’s Five” – Some songs that have a hold on me for various reasons…

Bruce Springsteen – “The River”

Released by ‘The Boss’ in 1981, this song always reminds me of night feeds when my first daughter had just been born. The year would have been 2015 and I can vividly remember being in her nursery room at about 3-4am one Sunday morning and I had Radio 2 playing very quietly in the background on my phone. This song came on and it was the first time I’d ever heard it but it just solidified the moment between me and my little girl. She was content in my arms, I was rocking gently in the chair and this song stuck with me. It only reached #35 in the UK Singles Chart but it makes the Top 5 for me.

Savage Garden – “Truly, Madly, Deeply”

I was only 10 years old when this song was released in 1997 but from about 2000 I started taking more of an interest in music and the first band I remember following and listening to regularly was Savage Garden, the Australian pop duo. Truly, Madly, Deeply was a commercial success from their self-titled first album and it hit the top of the American Billboard. It managed fourth spot in the UK chart. Whilst my childhood was a bit hit and miss (I didn’t enjoy secondary school) this song reminds me of going to my first ever ‘gig’ in 2000 when Savage Garden visited Newcastle as part of their World Tour. Me and my best mate ‘Jonny’ went along and probably thought we were so cool at the time – unsupervised and rocking whatever fashion statement a young teenager at the turn of the millennium wore in the UK.

Fleetwood Mac – “Storms

I’ve probably only really appreciated the quality and longevity of Fleetwood Mac as I’ve got older. I certainly didn’t listen to them as a child or in my twenties but I have fell in love with their music and story in recent years. For anybody reading who is a Fleetwood fan, I don’t need to tell you that their back catalogue is amazing and it is very hard to pick a ‘favourite’. The song ‘Storms’ written by the evergreen Stevie Nicks always helps me find personal solace. It reminds me of my struggles with my mental health and my relationship with my wife. I have so often let her down. Stevie Nicks writes about a lover she hasn’t been with for a while. She expresses a great fondness for this person, but she admits she has neglected the relationship as well. She wants to be calm, but Stevie Nicks is not a calm person, she is a storm. As the storm in her mind brews, she moves from loving him to knowing that it is over. Her feelings towards him begin to harden. I hope my ending is happier though!

Jon Secada – “Just another day”

Most people will have heard of this ‘ballad’ from 1992. It did well in the charts in both the USA and UK. My first recollection of this song was when I was a child and it would come on the radio when we were driving in my Dad’s car. My parents used to listen to the equivalent of Smooth, Magic Radio etc. The reason this song makes my special list is similar to the Bruce Springsteen song. When my second daughter was born in February 2019 I made my way back to the car in the hospital car park after being kicked out by the nurses (it was about 2am and I wasn’t allowed to stay on the ward). As I drove away from the hospital towards home I put the radio on (Smooth Radio) and this song was starting. As the song played I finally allowed the adrenaline that had powered me through the previous few hours subside and it was the first time I could reflect on becoming a Daddy again. My wife had been amazing, my daughter was healthy and gorgeous. I felt like the luckiest man in the World. This song always reminds me of my youngest girl, and always will.

Embrace – “I can’t come down”

“I Can’t Come Down” is a song by English rock band Embrace and from their number-one selling album, This New Day. The song itself under-performed peaking at #54 in the UK making it the lowest charting single by the band to date and their first to miss the UK Top 40 but it is my favourite tune from one of my fave bands. This song touches me. It reminds me of how I have often felt in the past and the feeling of loneliness. Being lost. Depressed. I can see why it might not have been everybody’s cup of tea but that is the joy of music isn’t it?! All about opinions, tastes and how you interpret the lyrics.

I feel much better after writing today’s blog than I did before I started so lets make it THIRTY days sober tomorrow and if I find myself enjoying the horse racing with my glass of water – Roll with it!

Author: Happy Daddy

A married thirtysomething Dad of two young daughters navigating my way through life a day at a time

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