1,000 Days

Funny. I appear to be quite good at viewing life through what I believe these days is a reasonably clear lens. On a conscious and rather rational level I accept that it can’t all be roses and rainbows, even to the point where I don’t just accept life’s lows but actually welcome and embrace them. Yet it takes so little to cause me to wobble in the moment. At the same time, my world is a bigger place now and I’m learning more and more that it isn’t just me who feels scared or worried or nervous in situations – I know this is the case for other people too. So I guess it’s two-fold, really, and what happens when you stop running away.

Whereas before, when I’ve felt out of place and uncomfortable, I would have felt alone, vulnerable and like I’m the only person in the world with these feelings, I now take comfort from not being alone. Hearing how others feel gives me a sense of balance. Like a compass, almost. Maybe it’s because I don’t trust my own instinct and gut feeling.

Let me explain.

On the counselling course, we are 20 students in the group. My therapist actually put to me when I, a couple of weeks in, told him I thought everyone seems gloriously nice, whether I was telling him that in a group of 20 I actually really like everyone. He was bemused and I had to giggle too. Of course not. But no, I didn’t dislike anyone. And I don’t now. But there are people – one or two – who trigger me. By ‘trigger’ I mean they provoke something in me. I suppose they get under my skin. By now I have learnt enough to recognise this is all to do with me and nothing to do with them. Sure, sometimes people are just shit, right? I’m not about to profess to being someone who internalises every last thing and make it my fault. I don’t. But when there’s a reaction, and particularly a negative one, to someone who hasn’t done anything wrong per se, then it’s a button in my soul they’ve inadvertently found and are pushing. What I realised last week, during session six, is that this isn’t going to be a love-in. This is going to push me into some uncomfortable corners but I have hope that I’ll come out the other end with insights rather than enemies. As long as we’re always prepared to look inwards, I believe everything else can be handled.

And I suppose it’s a little bit like recovery in that sense. I laid the foundations by going without. To build a life I no longer have any need to escape from, I had to go within. Always back to my core and what my heart and soul tell me – what is happening within me right now? And why?

I started this post Saturday morning and at the time I thought to myself how that was a good thing as all my posts seem to happen on Monday mornings. Yet here we are and it’s Monday morning.

Today isn’t just any old Monday morning, however. Today I am:

1,000 days sober.

Strictly speaking, I am 1,002 days sober but it’s the decision I celebrate rather than when I took my last drink. Fuck me – 1,000 days. Me? Are you fucking serious?? It doesn’t seem real. For all the right reasons.

Hubby asked me what had been the hardest thing. He caught me just as I was taking another big gulp of morning coffee and had suddenly got the urge to do a poo. Sorry, not sorry. It’s true. And it just highlighted another great reward – I’m really regular now. My body is happy, my heart is happy, my insides are happy, my soul is happy – I AM HAPPY! I don’t know what was the hardest thing about recovery, that might have to be a separate post another time. His question highlighted that without delay the rewards of recovery are all around me, all the time and in abundance. Right there in the very moment he asked me, there was something to be grateful for. Even if it was shit. I can even be grateful for shit. Isn’t that fucking awesome?

So many times I’ve thought about these milestones – 1 year, 2 years, 1,000 days and beyond – and thought how great it’d be to write a really wonderful piece about what I’ve learnt and share some gems about recovery. But there it is. It’s immediate and it’s right in my face at every turn – recovery has changed every last aspect of my life for the better. If I were to list the best things about it, I’d never stop writing.

And so here we are for the 1,000th time and I am making a real effort not to scream it from the rooftops, which is actually what I want to do:

TODAY I AM NOT GOING TO DRINK!

A Little Knot

It’s happening again! Not unexpectedly, because I knew things would pile up and get busy, but here we are and I find that what might actually hold the title as My Greatest Passion seems to be the thing I first de-prioritise: my writing. That strikes me as really quite unfortunate. And especially so because it’s here in the blogosphere and amongst you lovely people that I first found my foothold in this brave new world of recovery. The very foundation of everything that I get to have in my life now. Well, this was always my outlet, the place I came to make sense of it all, so in a way, perhaps it does make sense that I’m letting go of the support wheels a little. It does feel strange though. It feels like the aspect of my life that is so valuable and important to me is the first one to take a backseat, and that doesn’t seem right, does it?

The two worlds seem to have collided. Perhaps it’s because the world away from the screen grew so much bigger when I got sober? Things that were simply closed off to me before because of my addiction – studies, work, friendships – are now here in abundance. Those were things I ran away from and avoided. Now those are things I run to.

Maybe that’s OK. Yet, once in a while I feel like I should come on here more often. Perhaps it’s rooted in how I’ve never felt enough, and so it’d make sense that it comes back in full force now that life is busy and I can’t dedicate myself as much as I’d like to in every area.

The best thing with the counselling studies – aside from training to be a good counsellor, obviously – is how it’s forcing the spotlight on to my own process and emotions. Instead of just getting shitty feelings and carrying those around, I am more alert to them and make a concerted effort to understand their origins. Yesterday I spoke with one of my brothers. Came away with the feeling I normally think of as That Yucky Feeling. It can be described as a mixture of dread, feeling judged, disappointment, sadness and simply feeling stupid. The evidence? None. Did my brother say anything that could in any way be interpreted as criticism or disdain? Nope. Yet, there it was, That Yucky Feeling, and part of its yuckiness is that it lingers. I don’t have an answer. But things ARE changing because I was very aware of it, recognised it didn’t belong there and it prompted me to think about it. I guess that’s one to take to my personal therapy.

It’s all ticking along quite nicely now. The course and the work we have to do, the placement, supervision and personal therapy. Sure, some things rattle me, but same thing there – whilst it does rumble me, I’m more inclined to feel curious than I am to just feel rubbish. This is a good thing, I expect. I’ll get there in the end.

So here we are – Monday morning and life is pretty OK. Not perfect, but is it meant to be? Woke up with a bit of a headache but it’s not a hangover so that’s cool. I appear to have a sore muscle in my hip, so there is no morning run and instead I’ll head out for a long walk later. Very irritating as I absolutely LOVE my morning runs, but gosh, this is hardly a huge problem. Annoying but not the end of the world. Need to get a learning statement done and also another piece of work for the course. Working on a new translation (same trash literature but tonnes of fun) and this is all going to be a bit of a bugger to fit in.

My attention span suffers when I have a lot to do, so I need a plan. I need a time schedule, so this is what I’ll do next. Literally map out the days of the week in time slots. Otherwise I get myself in a flap. I begin a piece of course work but my mind wanders to the translation work and I start hopping back and forth doing tiny bits here and there, and this is when I get stressed. Also a few coffees planned with friends, all from the course. Two girls I meet with at the same time each week and I ain’t moving those. Was asked if I fancied coming along to a meet-up with a bigger group but here I was displaying integrity and a backbone and said I won’t have the time. That’s not an easy task for me. ‘No’ is not a word I gladly utter. But guess what? It was fine and I felt good about not promising something I really can’t fit in and the associated dread with the resulting mess of not getting everything done because of it. There’ll be a next time. This morning I’m going to NOT think of the course work, but it’ll require a bit of effort. I’m just going to translate. Spending a good four or five hours churning through the latest translation project will get me to a decent distance through it and that will in turn get me feeling more on top of everything. Otherwise I’ll be here this afternoon with little bits done here and there and still making no real headway.

So time now to get focused and create the week’s schedule. There’s a little knot of dread and anxiety in the pit of my stomach but I feel more and more equipped to untangle these each time they form.

  1. I’m not the worst person in the world.
  2. People don’t (at least not always) hate me on sight.
  3. I’m capable.
  4. I appear to have people around me who like me, just like I like them. They are not my friends out of pity. I hope. Hm… Er… I’m not entirely convinced so this one’s more of a case of convincing myself. One more time for the road: Hubby loves me because I’m worthy of love and he didn’t marry me for charity. God, why is this such an uncomfortable thing to even type?
  5. It’s OK if I don’t do everything perfectly right.

Right. Let’s go. Progress, not perfection.

Today I’m not going to drink.