This Big Thing

I have completely given up on the WordPress app – I have no idea what’s happened to it but it won’t load comments, nor will it display the blogs I follow in the newsfeed, so I have deleted it. It irritates me as it was handy to have. I always used to respond to comments there as and when they appeared and only ever log in to this web version like now, when I am writing a post. It was also always via the app that I would read the blogs I follow – on the bus or on the sofa – whereas now I read them via the e-mail notifications and as a result I rarely comment now, simply because I would have to sit by my computer to do so. Annoying.

What ISN’T annoying is my third Christmas sober. I have to really concentrate to remember what I was going through the first Christmas, whether I found it strange not to drink or if it had already become my normal by then. My first sober Christmas was, after all, almost one year into sobriety. Now, almost three years down the line, it hasn’t occurred to me until just now – the moment I go to write a blog post on my recovery blog – that I’m not drinking during a festive season where alcohol seems to be everywhere we turn. It’s almost like raisins to me now. I don’t like raisins. And they’re in a lot of stuff. But raisins don’t stand out to me. If they’re in something, I move on to the next without thinking about it. Like the wine selection on a menu – my eyes seek out the soft drink section without it feeling strange or crappy. I like that a lot, that my life now isn’t so all consumingly focused on recovery and on recovery alone. These days it really is pretty effortless and any time I think about my drinking it’s with a sense of curiosity and wonder as opposed to This Big Thing That Changed My Life.

Bgddyjim recently wrote about hitting his 28 years sober and how the person picking up the 30-day chip was told this was harder to achieve than those chips signifying years. It’s true. Almost three years feels easier than three days or three weeks did. I mean, the milestone I remember the most clearly in terms of how HUGE and how UTTERLY AMAZING it felt, was when I hit ten days sober. Ten days! It still makes me smile, remembering that hopeful, excited feeling of HOLY CANNOLI I CAN DO THIS! Sometimes I wonder whether it’ll just slip into the background completely, my recovery. Whether one day it’ll only be a very fleeting thought and not This Big Thing That Changed My Life. I’ve brought this to my personal therapy a lot lately, reflecting on how my recovery became my everything and how it’s now more one part of many that make me me.

I’ve been reflecting on how I grabbed on to recovery with everything I had. I gave it everything and I made it everything. I still do, but it’s now giving way to the things I am filling my life with. In many ways, it makes perfect sense. Rock bottom was for me a dark place where my life felt like a wreckage. At that point, my only focus was to get through the day and survive. Literally survive, because I was all too aware that I might not wake up the next morning. I was acutely conscious of how any day could be my last. And so, early recovery was sort of this exhilarating ride of discovering how to live life again and how to be me, and knowing in my bones how I only got to have my life again because of This Big Thing That Changed My Life. But as recovery and sobriety shifted from requiring all that I had, to something I increasingly got the hang of, other things found their way back into my existence. So many of them. Running, writing, friendships, bettering myself and setting goals.

So now, when I approach my third sober Christmas, not drinking is barely on my mind. Not drinking is these days just a given. What’s on my mind is submitting the assignments due for the counselling course. What’s on my mind is figuring out how to go with my clients over the break. What’s on my mind is family time. What’s on my mind is catching up with friends. What’s on my mind is the translation project I’m currently working on. What’s on my mind is my life and everything in it. And drinking isn’t in my life.

With all that said, don’t for a moment think I’m trying to dismiss my recovery as something that isn’t important. All that I have now – my life and all that is in it – I have because I’m sober. My recovery may not be what occupies my thoughts 95% of the time like it did that first year perhaps, but it’s 100% the reason why I have the life I want to have now. The things I have in my life now, I only have because I don’t drink. And needless to say, if I were to drink again, all those things would pretty much immediately crash and burn and I’d once again survey the wreckage of a life un-lived. So it’s my absolute priority. It’s the foundation for all that I have. Without my sobriety, I have nothing. So make no mistake – of this I am all too aware. And I’m grateful every goddamn second of the day. I may not have to focus so hard these days and quite often the 23rd of the month slips me by without me noticing, but I will never lose sight of why life is now what it is.

Another way to put it would be to say that the things I now have in my life and everything my life is, are simply there because drinking ISN’T. My recovery has given room for me to fill my life with those things that matter and that I love. Addiction is a very selfish creature, you see. It won’t let you have anything else, and will gradually take everything else away from you. Recovery lets you have your life back and everything you want in it. So it’s not that recovery isn’t my entire focus as much as it’s shifted from something I have to focus on entirely into something I nurture in order to have the life I want. And my recovery is now one of many things that make me me. Sure, I guess you can say it’s the most important part as without it all would be lost in an instant, but more than anything it’s given room for me to grow to be the things I am meant to be. And I’m not just sober. I’m also a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend and so much else.

Fuck me, I feel euphoric now. Who would have thought this was possible? I didn’t. And yet here we are. Not so long ago, I looked at my I’m Sober app and cried tears of joy at seeing double digits. Ten days. Opening the app today, that figure is 1,056 days.

Oh stop! I have something in my eye. I’m not crying. You’re crying.

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas in whatever way you celebrate or a lovely break if you don’t.

Today I’m not going to drink.

A Little Eerie

Good:

  1. My mammogram and examinations showed no signs of breast cancer or anything else that may fall into the sinister bracket. Whilst I felt mostly calm about it, there was still that “what if” lurking around at the back of my mind and the last week has not been my idea of fun. At all.
  2. My hip appears to have recovered and I am able to go for my regular oh so lovely and oh so needed runs. Even after a full month of only walks, I was thrilled to discover I could run my 6k-loop without keeling over. #winning
  3. I’m on course to get a hearing aid. I will hear again! Properly! Not say “sorry” a gazillion times whilst aiming my left ear at people or give up and nod because I can’t bear to ask yet another time for them to repeat themselves. Nor will I have to survey the layout of a table and position myself so that my left ear is aimed towards others.

My 10k walk this morning was beautiful – the fog was thick over the park and it was gorgeous. A little eerie, but I like that. It’s how I roll.

Most course work done and dusted and I was pleasantly surprised to find I’d done most of it at the time, except for a case study, but wrote that one up today so all good to go. Whether I pass is all is another matter though, given I felt like I was just vomiting random words at one point, but that’s another worry for another day.

Bad:

  1. Fuckall. No really. Nothing.

***

Honestly – do I really have much to complain about? Boobie-related scare is now over with. Dread about the classroom part of the studies I guess I will just continue to push through until I (hopefully) find the amount of pushing required lessens … which it will if I stick at it. Fears are there to be faced. It’s how we grow. And my mantra remains the same and I repeat it to myself every time my anxiety has me in knots: HERE I GROW AGAIN. I believe it was one of you beautiful souls who handed that little phrase to me here in a comment, actually. It’s become my guiding light, kinda. That and Carl Jung’s words: “where your fear is, there your task is“.

Well, that’s me. Life on life’s terms and once again – just fucking IMAGINE what these weeks would have been like (and FELT like) had I still been drinking. An angry boobie? Jesus, that would have been unbearably stressful. Instead, here I am, and whilst I’m not going to pretend I didn’t freak out, I dealt with it. Calmly (ish) and that was that.

Oh, a disclaimer – if you find something wrong with your boobie, it is absolutely fucking fine to freak out big style. By all means do. It’s scary as hell. But then deal with it. Don’t pick up a drink, pick up the phone – to your doctor so they can get you checked. And whilst it could be something shitty, there are tonnes of things that can happen with boobies that can cause pain and discomfort and most of the time it’s not the dreaded C. …and sometimes it is. Someone I know recently got diagnosed with the dreaded C in a boobie and I feel ill just thinking about it. I actually feel almost guilty that my result was a good one. Bottom line though, whatever it might be, get it checked because even if it’s the worst you could imagine it’s always better to find it and fight it sooner rather than later. And no matter what – it’s fine to freak out. Don’t drink or use, but by all means freak out if you need to. And then deal with it.

Gosh, bit of a depressing message, no?

Here’s a more positive one, however:

Today I’m not going to drink.