And so finally the day is here. Well, almost – tomorrow it will be. On TV just now, someone said “buckle up people, this is IT, this is life – it’s not a rehearsal” and it struck me as very fitting. Now, I could just breeze past that or pretend I was watching something ever so clever and cool but the person who said it was Caroline Manzo, who, in all fairness IS clever and cool, but the programme I am watching is most definitely not. I’m binge watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. It’s my guilty pleasure, sue me. Those ladies sue each other a lot, as it happens.
I was going to say it isn’t that huge a deal or a life changing experience, but actually it is and I think it will be. Tomorrow is my first day on the counselling course and I’m so excited about it, so eager to get stuck in now. One of the lovely therapists at work got a little emotional talking about it, telling me it changes you forever. In a good way. Part of studying involves plenty of therapy for yourself, as well as turning yourself inside out in a group setting. As a recovering addict I reckon I have a small advantage as this is something recovery teaches us: how to be fearlessly honest, look inward and share with others what used to be our dirty, shameful secrets. See? Like the talented Laura McKowen (a writer and recovery advocate I adore – do look her up) refers to us recovering addicts: WE’RE THE LUCKIEST. I wish those words were mine, just like I wish I could be all cool and quote something other than RHONJ, but there we are. Oh, holy crap, I’m using the abbreviation for that trashy TV programme now, like some goddamn super fan?!
No, a book isn’t materialising at this present time, but here I am pursuing something I’m passionate about and interested in and this is something I could never do when I was drinking. This stuff was not possible before. Talk in front of people? Give presentations? Run a goddamn workshop? When I was drinking, the idea of any of those things would have stopped me even considering something no matter how much I’d wanted to do it. It always DID stop me. When I did my Masters, part of a unit was to give a five-minute presentation. I begged the tutor to let me do another essay instead and I kid you not – I was absolutely prepared to forsake getting the Masters and wasting all tuition fees and all the other hard work rather than stand and talk for FIVE MINUTES. Thankfully he agreed and instead I had to produce a dissertation length translation study that required pretty much the same amount of work as my actual dissertation. The prep and study for that presentation including creating the slides might have taken a couple of days, right?
Now, my addiction hadn’t yet kicked off for real back then, so I can’t blame that entirely. I don’t even know if I can partly blame it. But I was an addict in the making, I guess, and my modus operandi was always flight as opposed to fight. Sometimes I wish that I could have got to this point back then, that it’s a shame that I had to waste such a huge chunk of my life destroying myself before I finally got to this point where I’m becoming the best Anna I can be. But I also know that perhaps it’s the fact that I did indeed sink into addiction that has made all this possible. Like Laura says – we’re the luckiest. Hell, all I need to feel deliriously happy is to wake up without a hangover. Honestly, I need little else. That’s what happens in recovery. I don’t know that I would feel so grateful for those small, simple things if I’d never lost all those years.
So imagine my joy, excitement and gratitude that I can walk into that room tomorrow for the first time and not freak out because ahead of me are things that scare me. All those things DO scare me! The idea of presentations makes me want to cry. Or be sick. Both. But here’s the strange thing – I’m looking forward to it. The voice inside me that used to yell at me to run for the hills is now roaring BRING IT ON!
I’m reminding myself that it’ll be hard. Yes, it’ll feel like a victory if I manage to introduce myself without blushing and stuttering, but chances are there’ll be plenty of steep hills. I need to remember to fight and not flee. Like recovery. One moment you feel like a champion for fighting off the Beast, the next you hit turbulence and it can seem so difficult and bleak. But we keep going. We always keep going here on the Pink Cloud. We face the fear and do it anyway.
Well. A little pep talk for myself, I guess. I’m genuinely not feeling nervous but I also know that I’m super sensitive and even the smallest set-back can send me into Miseryville so need to keep myself grounded.
Gosh, I just remembered the second time I ran the reflection group at the rehab and it went to shit – I felt like an utter failure, sat on the bed when I got home after that shift and cried me a river. As it happens, I ran the morning meditation this morning and just like I’ll cop to watching RHONJ, I’ll be honest – it wasn’t a great session. And afterwards this lovely client came and asked me genuine questions relating to what we’d discussed – relapse – and I found myself at a loss as to how to help him reframe it. That’s right, it wasn’t the best group I’ve run and it was possibly the worst advice I’ve managed to muster, and yes I felt a bit rubbish about it. The client in question is really focused on his recovery and his question was sincere and demonstrated that he is there for all the right reasons, so I was really kicking myself. Now THERE was a moment I would have loved to have something really great roll off my tongue and for him to then pass on along the lines of “when I was in rehab, this lady said…” – like you pass on AMAZING advice someone once gave you. Then for him to have “Anna got me sober” tattooed on his forearm. Jokes aside, that’s an example of me being self absorbed and hopefully you know what I mean. Bottom line is I can handle those things – I can handle BEING HUMAN!! – and I have no fucking problem whatsoever walking back in for my next shift ready to run groups and give advice as best I am able.
Actually, I’m being overly self critical now. The group was FINE. Just not the best. And as for the advice, I did my best and then suggested he go and grab Work-Hubby who was on shift with me and get his perspective. Work-Hubby has 23 years of recovery and is like a walking, talking AA meeting – full of wisdom and those 23 years of perspective to offer. So perhaps I gave really sound advice after all? I gave him my time and listened, offered whatever insight and perspective I had at my disposal and then pointed him to the best recovery badass I know. See? Perhaps I’m not so bad. And a client who discharged today gave me a big hug and told me “you’re like this happy blondie love bug“. That made me very happy. And I assume being called a “love bug” is a cute and sweet thing and doesn’t, unbeknownst to me, mean something mean or smutty! (Don’t tell me if that’s the case!)
Right. One more reunion episode – I’m on season 3 and they’re all insane – and then bed, read for a while and tomorrow a new chapter begins!
Today I’m not going to drink.