Sometimes I need to be put back in my box and I’m lucky enough to have people around me who do just that. Not in a shut-up-you’re-an-idiot kind of way (which wouldn’t be any good for anyone in any way) but in a hm-did-you-consider-this manner. I’m also lucky enough to have patient people do this for me, because I have a tendency to get so caught up in a thought that I allow it to run away with me. Sometimes I need to be brought right back down to terra firma. OK, fine. Often.
Over the past few weeks I’ve thought so much about what the key to recovery is. It has frustrated the hell out of me, and it still IS frustrating the hell out of me. And today, something that has come up during my counselling studies time and time again popped into my mind: can it be OK not to have all the answers? Maybe this is one of those things.
- What I’ve been told, and also seen for myself, appears to be true: people can only get sober when they want to. When we’re ready. When we’ve had enough, whether we call it a rock bottom or “sick and tired of being sick and tired” or a turning point.
- We only stay sober when we live according to a new standard. We can call this working a program, be it 12 steps or just a new set of principles and values.
Yet, here I am, tearing my hair out because I want to understand how I, or anyone else, could be stuck in addiction for so long before we allowed this beautiful life to happen. I’m sitting here wondering how to help Drunk Me see the light. Maybe the truth is every bit as bleak as I may have to accept it to be: no, I couldn’t have got sober any sooner than I did. No, I couldn’t have made it before that point. No, it isn’t likely anyone else would either. If that was possible, in this world so full of amazing minds and talents, that answer would have appeared by now.
So now I’m all grumpy and muttering (even stubbed my toe on the coffee table earlier, adding to my chagrin) because addiction is so fucking ugly, senseless and boofuckinghoo. I’m torn between seeing sense – because it appears to be staring me in the face – and stubbornly stamp my feet, throw a tantrum and REFUSE to believe it.
All I have is this: I was a hopeless drunk and now I’m happily sober, something I never thought I could or would be. I’m so grateful it makes me weep, sometimes something so small as just waking up in the morning to realise I’m not hungover. That’s all it takes. I’m so full of joy and gratitude I regularly end up shedding a little tear of happiness over having my life back. But it happened when I was ready. And there probably aren’t any magical words that can be said to help Drunk Me take the leap sooner. All the Drunk Mes can only get there when they’re ready. Perhaps it’s true that all I can do is continue to share my journey like other sober folk do, and hope that one day our testimony will fall on the ears that are ready to not only hear, but believe it too. However, there were tonnes of sober people in the world when I was still drinking and hearing that stuff just put me off until… …it didn’t. Or rather, it had no impact whatsoever because I only stopped drinking when continuing drinking just got too fucking hard and not a second before that.
This literally makes me want to go on a rampage. And typing that just made me giggle because I’m such a stubborn cow. Let go and let God. Honestly. Argh.
Yes and no. I’m stubborn, probably more arrogant than I want to accept (I know best) and a whole host of other annoying things. So let’s just say I’m moodily glancing at the obvious answers (arms folded, bottom lip sticking out – every inch the petulant child) and I’ll stretch to accepting they make sense, whilst I smile a little (like a naughty child clocking where mum has hidden the cookies) glancing in the other direction because I want to believe there is more to this.
My anxiety seems to be a thing. A real, actual thing. This is one of those hey-what’s-happening things of my recovery, I’ve found. Just over two years ago, I started living au naturel. No booze to numb my senses half the time and send me to hell feeling low and anxious the other half. Of course with alcohol being a depressant, I did realise very quickly that without it, my emotional state was a whole different ball game. If I’m down, it’s mostly for a reason I can point at and understand. I would hate to go on any medication because the idea scares me for lots of reasons, but we can talk about that another time. Also, I’ve set out to be very patient with myself and not rush to immediately fix any unpleasant emotion – I am an addict after all and this modus operandi was what got me into all that shit to begin with.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m not depressed and I say that because I’m pretty damn happy 95% of the time. But anxiety is different. Or is it? Well. Sometimes I get this overwhelming sense of ICK. A slightly sick feeling, it feels a bit like a combination of dread and disappointment. It’s almost always very fleeting and disappears quickly. On occasion it stays with me longer and those are the times that result in sleepless nights when I simply can’t slow my mind down. Some of the obsessive, unstoppable thoughts when that happens are indeed me catastrophising, but just as many aren’t – it’s just a torrent produced by a mind in overdrive. When I have those nights, my brain will serve up, yes, the horrible you-will-fail-at-everything scenarios, but also random nonsense like weighing up the pros and cons of a particular type of running shoe. I just can’t switch it off. It’s maddening.
Does it bother me? A little. Does it affect my life? Not really or at least not so much it’s causing a problem. Is it normal? I don’t freaking know! I’m still working out who this person is now that I’m sober and I feel like I have nothing to measure these feelings against. Speaking to Wifey earlier about other stuff made me realise you don’t have to have been stuck in addiction to suddenly find yourself having to figure everything out again half way through life or revise what you thought the future might hold, so that’s good news – awesome, in fact, because sometimes I feel alone and trapped in my own crazy head – but it’s still confusing. I mean, if I were to see a doctor, I honestly wouldn’t know how to answer the question of “is this normal for you?” which is often what doctors ask if you’re describing whatever symptoms. I still have no idea what’s normal for me. Finding out who I am now that I’m sober is one of the great rewards of recovery but also very, very confusing.
So that’s my Tuesday. Having to see sense and have the cojones to look at myself honestly. Not sure I’m happy with either.
This I’m fucking thrilled about though:
Today I’m not going to drink.