“Trägen vinner“, goes the Swedish saying. It roughly means that if you’re stubborn enough, you’ll get there. Keep going, buddy – basically. It’s one of the things I’m really able to do in recovery: I’m able to keep going. No longer does everything have to happen with lightning speed and no longer do I pack things in if I’m not immediately excellent at it. Slowly does it. Bit by bit, step by step. It’s great stuff and it’s so unlike me it makes me laugh. Before I got sober I simply never took my time with anything. Anything I was naturally good at, I’d take a quick shot at but just as quickly lose interest – I just didn’t have the wherewithal to keep anything up. Short bursts of energy and creativity that’d fizzle out faster than they’d exploded into action. If you’d asked me back then, I would have told you I just wasn’t wired that way, that I just wasn’t “the sort of person” who’d stick at something. For me it was always a sprint, never a marathon.
Only it wasn’t a case of “not in my nature”. It was a case of addiction. Plain and simple.
Turns out I am doing OK at this one-step-at-a-time business. OK, so patience will probably never be my strong point, but I’m hell of a lot better at it than I once thought myself to be. Well, Sober Me is. Drunk Me wasn’t. It isn’t any more complicated than that. When we recover, who we really are emerge from underneath all the shit addiction had us buried under and rarely are we the smudgy, sluggish and even despicable people we turned into as slaves when we return to truly living.
There were so many lies I told myself!
“I am not a flock animal” has to be one of the most ridiculous of those lies. Yes, I fucking am! Not only don’t I hate being with other people, I actually love it and I don’t shrink anymore. Well, figures as I don’t have a drinking problem to hide and maintain, which obviously gets really tricky unless you isolate. I love learning about stuff, hearing what others have to say and have an exchange. I positively thoroughly LOVE it, this stuff that happens in flock situations. I 100% love solitude and quiet, but I need connection too.
“I don’t like being the centre of attention” was another. OK, this is partly true. It’s unlikely you’ll ever catch me dancing on the tables or fight for the mic at karaoke, but I like to speak up and I thrive on being heard. We all need validation in whatever little way and I feel good voicing my feelings, opinions or whatever else I may have something to say about. Sure, I might feel a little self conscious and stuff, but I am still ME.
“I don’t dance sober” – well, this one does remain at least somewhat true, I think, except when I’m alone (and then I do really go for it – ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’ by Eels does the trick every time). I’ll awkwardly bop along on the sidelines at a push. I mean, here’s me at a midsummer celebration in 1978. Two-yearold me danced sober around the maypole, and you can tell I’m not entirely sold on the idea but who knows – perhaps I was just mortified at how Mum had put me in a dress, and a RED one at that? It’s just not my colour.
Point is though, some “truths” do remain as we get sober – perhaps the dance floor just isn’t my place – but I find there are so many lies too. I’m discovering almost on a daily basis that I’m simply so much better than I gave myself credit for. Wow… That almost sounds like I’m beginning to accept and come to love who I am. I guess I always did like me but shrunk and hid away because I always thought no one else did. This chick, though – she ain’t doing too bad just about now.
And this chick is quite fabulous – yes, FABULOUS! – at sticking with it, at keeping going, at persevering. What made me think of this was how the end of my run this evening felt better than the last one. Instead of throwing in the towel because the last one left me feeling like I was going to vomit, I headed out with determination and knew I’ll get stronger and stronger, faster and faster. Not about to overtake Mo Farah on the park, but hey. It’s good stuff and I know that if I stick at it, I’ll soon be chugging around my old 6-7k loops at a reasonable pace (for ME – it’s still snail pace by most other people’s standards!) without having to stop and walk.
Yep, trägen vinner indeed and I’m enjoying it. It’s a good thing and SO much more satisfying to work hard and chip away at something little by little, than a mad hit-or-miss smash and then nothing. It just feels really good when things come together if you’ve had to really work for it. Just like recovery, really.
Today I’m not going to drink.