silver hallmarks often include a ‘fineness mark’. sterling silver can be marked as 925, which signifies that it consists of 925 parts of pure silver per 1000. vintage European silver, in particular from Italy and Germany, often uses the hallmark shown above, denoting a lesser proportion of 800 parts silver per 1000.

there aren’t so many images to choose from when you are writing about bigger numbers in sobriety! I quailed at the prospect of writing a blog post based on the anniversary last year of eight hundred years since the signing of the Magna Carta 😉 so instead, you get some thoughts on silver…

I have amassed quite a bit of sober bling over eight hundred days and it is all pretty much silver. I bought my first ‘Stay Here’ bracelet from Belle as a reward to myself for reaching 30 days sober. in those days (ha!) the ‘Stay Here’ bracelets were of hammered aluminium. I actually managed to wear that one out (it got bent back in the hurly burly of my not-very-exciting-life once too often, probably whilst taking out a recalcitrant load of laundry) and so replaced it with a sterling silver ‘Stay Here’ bracelet just after my one year soberversary. think I have worn that bracelet every day since.

there were various silver necklaces and earrings which marked milestones at 90 days and onwards, and then for my two year soberversary I bought a hammered silver ring which I wear on the fourth finger of my right hand. like the wedding ring on my left hand, it signifies a commitment entered into with both solemnity and joy – but to myself, that I will remain sober for life.

I cherish the ritual of putting these items on each morning. they act as constant visual reminders to myself of what I have achieved and what I stand for. while putting them on yesterday a phrase from the Book of Proverbs came to my mind:

‘She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.’

my sobriety has clothed me once more in my own self-respect. if I had reaped no other rewards from it, just that would truly be enough. after years of mounting self-loathing from being unable to ‘control’ my drinking, I have found a bottomless well of self-acceptance which has entirely renewed me.

but that is by no means all it has done. it has lifted the heavy weight of anxiety that I had become so accustomed to carrying, I almost no longer knew it was there. over the last year, meditation has become the forklift-truck I have used to help me do this, providing the space between reaction and response that I so desperately needed. a tough day at work yesterday and another one anticipated today are not exceptions to this attitude to the future, but examples of it. I have learnt that I can handle the toughest days that life can throw at me without alcohol, and that in fact I handle them better without alcohol, which is something I could never have imagined before I stopped drinking.

if you’re not familiar with Proverbs Chapter 31, it has always had resonance for me for different reasons. the rest of the Book of Proverbs is likely to be based upon the sayings of King Solomon (970 – 930 BC) but the last chapter is thought to be based upon the advice of the king’s mother, so possibly Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother.

it is a list of the attributes of a virtuous woman, which at various points in my life I have either considered appallingly paternalistic and controlling, or seen as a perfectionist ideal, the modern equivalent of which I should try to achieve although it nearly breaks me upon the wheel of doing so. because I thought for years that wine was what enabled me to do that – and it did, until it really, really didn’t.

the chapter is based upon the Old Testament idea of marriage as more of a business arrangement than anything else. it is hugely materialistic in many ways, focusing on the virtues of industry and good stewardship. when survival might depend upon the female’s ability to keep her family warm and fed, then there was perhaps no time for mention of the virtues of kindness or tenderness, of bedtime stories and tickle fights.

something I’ve learnt in researching this post is that it is actually an acrostic poem, with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet used as the initial letters for a sequence of verses. I was also touched to read that in some households its recital on the evening preceding the Sabbath was used as a mnemonic to remind the husband of all the attributes he should thank his wife for displaying – a sort of Old Testament version of ‘A – you’re adorable! B – you’re so beautiful!’

reading the verses more carefully for the purposes of writing now, I have a sneaking fondness for the Proverbs 31 woman. she runs her own successful business, has a strong work ethic, is charitable and provides well for her staff and family. my favourite line has to be that she keeps her family warm when the snows come by ‘clothing them in scarlet’. I suspect however that she might not have been the easiest woman to live with, all that getting up while it is dark and doing a day’s work before her servants. (I am typing this at 5.32am. ahem.)

that line I quoted above keeps coming back to me. this is what the Proverbs 31 woman gets out of all this – strength, dignity, and the ability to rejoice whatever her circumstances.

but I always used to think that she earnt that because she got so much shit done, as Bathsheba never said.

and what I am learning is that in fact my ability to flourish like the green bay tree is dependent not upon how much I can get done, but by how much I can accept that my worth is not dependent upon any action or performance of mine, but is innate just by the fact that I have been born and exist upon this earth.

just that, alone – that is enough. 

right – time to get the family up and dressed in scarlet 😉 have a smashing day! Prim xx

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