Before and since

I would imagine most of us who are in recovery from addiction have heard this little phrase bandied about:

The best thing about recovery is that all your feelings come back. The worst thing about recovery is that all your feelings come back“.

You know, I do believe that there is a greater design, a greater power, a force bigger than we are that nudges us in the right direction at the right time. I do feel that way right now. This 45-yearold woman can face what a little girl could not and it seems to me that how the pieces are falling into place one by one like a giant jigsaw puzzle is happening for a reason.

And so recently I reached out to my beautiful mother because there is a part of the story that I needed her input to untangle. Or rather, I needed to know if what I’ve carried with me all of my life was only something borne out of my own imagination somehow. I have agonised over this for many, many years. Well, not the years I fended off pain by drowning it in a sea of Sauvignon Blanc, but all others before and since.

She stepped up. I don’t know why I even hesitated now, because it seems so obvious that of course that’s what she’d immediately do. Perhaps I worried it’d be too much, too hurtful, too harrowing. I’d do anything for Bambino. I would go to my own death for him. I guess what I for some insane reason totally missed is that mum is my mum. I’m her child. She would do anything for me. Probably go to her own death, so of course she’d make a goddamn phone call. I texted her and within 10 seconds she rang. I specifically said to have a think about it but 10 seconds is all it took.

And then there was peace. Now I know. Well, I think for now I know all I need to know. That hole in my heart makes sense and things can be put to rest. Simply because a mother’s intuition was in tune with what I knew in my bones. And again that thing happened. That thing that happened in recovery. When you speak your truth and suddenly there are other voices: “me too”. Once again, I’m not alone.

Don’t you just hate it when you read something that seems really cryptic and think to yourself “goddamn it, just spit it out! What are you saying?” – I get it. But here’s the deal: there is nothing to spit out. There is just something I know in my soul and in every fibre of my being, but where memories would normally be there is a blank space. Nothing. Not even a fragment. At 45, however, I think I may have found peace simply because I now know I wasn’t alone and that what I knew to be true wasn’t just in my head because I’m weird or bad somehow. And whilst that still leaves that blank space, I can make my peace with that.

Other than that, I have hit my usual “spring slump” that I always got at school and university, and now during these studies too. I’m just DONE and need a break. It does take a lot out of me, mostly so the actual course and getting together as a group every Friday. I’m not a fan of groups on a good day, but here there’s 20 of us and this counselling journey is pretty intense, so whilst there isn’t actually a single person I dislike – there’s a handful of people who have become good friends, another handful I kinda like, a sprinkling of people I don’t mind and yet another few I don’t have any view of at all – it takes more energy from me than I like. But that’s something else to figure out I suppose. Or do I need to? Do I need to iron out why I’m not that much of a flock animal? Is this something to fix? Or is it absolutely OK to be a solitary soul who likes the quiet life? If it ain’t broken…

What possibly needs fixing is how I let things follow me around stay in my head rent free in some situations. Why? Pointless. Sometimes it just comes down to asking myself “is this someone who is important to me?” and if the answer is no, then why in God’s name do I allow myself to feel bad?

As for the course though, We have five more sessions before the summer break. Then 35 more over the second year. 40 more occasions. Absolutely fine. I can do 40 more. One at a time. And then – all being well – I’ll have a diploma saying I can do this thing that I love for a living. In exchange for 40 hits of dread and the jitters? That doesn’t seem so bad.

Because that’s the thing. Anxiety – or FEAR, more accurately – has been my companion for all these 45 years. Everything I do, I do in a state of varying degrees of being scared. I remember a few months into the pandemic, Hubby turned to me and said no one he knows was as calm about the whole thing as I was. At the time it struck me as strange, that I – Miss Scared All the Time – not only could be perceived that way, but more so, that I actually was. Am.

I’ve thought about this quite a lot lately, actually. And it dawned on me that if you really think about it, it makes perfect fucking sense! Of course I’m better equipped than non-anxious, non-scared people to deal with a pandemic and all these lockdowns. I BLOODY KNOW THIS! This is how I have lived my entire goddamn life! A constant threat, impending doom just around the corner, the never absent feeling (that feels like premonition) that something really terrible is about to happen to me or, most of the time, to the people I love. And now there’s a threat called Covid. Hey, first of all it’s a freaking relief to know what the threat IS! That alone is a huge bonus. And then, to put to this solitary, introverted creature to stay in my house? Perfect! And don’t get me started on strict rules and restrictions (everything tightly controlled and ordered)…

I love it when things make sense and this does. An actual threat isn’t all that troublesome for me because I’ve operated under threat my whole life.

And that’s not to minimise the pandemic and all the terrible things that have happened in its wake. I’m just saying I now understand that it’s not that I’m weirdly stronger than I thought – I’m just doing what I’ve been doing all along. I know this. I’ve got this. I can handle this. But OK, as for strong – that I am. You can’t survive under threat for as long as I have unless you’re pretty robust. Funny how I used to see myself as weak. Stupid, really, because I’m anything but.

In other news we are selling our apartment and have our eye on a lovely house that is literally across the road. We are waiting for news as we speak. Maybe visualisation is a powerful thing, in my mind our morning coffee in the garden there is so vivid I feel like it’s real. If it falls through, there’ll be another garden. And having morning coffee here, in our beautiful home that I love so much, sitting on our bright turquoise sofa, isn’t anything short of fantastic either. So what will be, will be.

Today I’m not going to drink.

5 thoughts on “Before and since

  1. It’s been quite a while since I’ve written, read and/or commented on anything here, but when I got a notification that you’d written, I felt compelled to read (and then subsequently, comment – Now I’ll have to go and check that subsequently is the right word in this context 🤨 I hate how anal-retentive I am ffs).

    Anyhow…I’m ALWAYS struck by how familiar everything you write is to me, how I can relate to it even if we’re different in many ways. I often tear up at some of your words or laugh out loud at others because you’ve perfectly worded how I feel or have felt. I love you for that. The pandemic, for example. I realised months ago just how differently I’ve felt about it all as compared with the vast majority. I’ve had to keep quiet about that mostly, I could have sounded like a bitch if I’d voiced just how much worse 2016 was for me or how I prefer solitude at a time others are hating it. I don’t lack empathy but I found it hard to sympathise with some & then analysed myself to the point I made myself ill. So… that was months ago and I figured it all out but I should’ve looked you up and read a lot of your blogs – because you calm me, Anna. It was great too to read what you said about your mum. As relatable as usual, my kids are getting to a point of needing to get answers from their dad and I’m the mediator of sorts. My protective nature is finding it all quite stressful (don’t know what to do for the best) but you’ve made me feel more able to do this. Thank you! ❤.

    Can you believe just how close you are to finishing your course? It’s just flown past. I watched a programme last night about a mental health facility and of the professionals who work there. One nurse was telling how she’d gone into the job because of her dysfunctional family life and my heart just went out to her. It was inspiring, as you are. You’re made for this and I’m proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

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