A challenging week

I still have the feeling that I’m experiencing life as if through an amplifier turned up to 11. What is strange is that I think it’s starting to become normalised. Humans do have an uncanny ability to normalise the most remarkable things which is both good and bad. On the negative side we can convert excessive drinking (and the resulting suffering) into our social normal. On a more positive note we can also begin to normalise our experiences of living sober. It doesn’t just apply to substance abuse problems either. When I look back at what I managed to normalise during various jobs, living arrangements and relationships I can’t believe I ever tolerated some of it. I’m sure most of you also have those sorts of memories that you look back on in disbelief with a small shake of your head. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I find it comforting to know that no matter how scared and avoidant of change we are when it does inevitably happen we have far more capacity to adapt and roll with it than many of us give ourselves credit for.

It’s been a strange week in my world. I went to my Auntie’s funeral on Wednesday. I wasn’t close to her, having only seen her maybe twice in the last two decades but I was sad for my uncle and that side of the family. I saw one cousin who I hadn’t seen for probably three decades and probably won’t for the next three, or the next funeral maybe. Another cousin was pleasant and polite but there is no connection whatsoever. The third cousin is the only one I really like and it was nice to see him, the last time being at my mum’s funeral over a decade ago. It made me a bit sad about the distance between us all. As you can tell, we’re not a close family, never have been really. I’ve always really envied warm and close families that love spending time together.

Spending time with family in this way has often been a huge trigger making me want to douse down the awkwardness, sadness and confusion that it brings. As that is not an option now I was left to see and feel it all rather than get that squirrelly, squirmy feeling of ‘OMG! Let me out!! Let the drinking begin…’ In a way this is the easier option. Instead of running in psychological circles until the discomfort headlights well and truly stop me in my tracks I was observing the situation for what it was, right from the beginning.

I also realised this week that my thinking when facing difficult situations has become brutally pragmatic in some ways. I don’t know if I was always like this or if this is a new development within sobriety. When we filed into the chapel for the funeral I couldn’t help wondering about what my dad was thinking. He’s in his 80s now and has openly talked with me about his uncertainty about how many years he has left. His funeral will take place in the same chapel when the time comes. That must have been an odd thought for him. I didn’t say anything though, some things are best left unsaid.

I also realised that sayings such as ‘blood is thicker than water’ are a load of balls. Just because I may have more DNA in common with one person than another it doesn’t mean there will automatically be any sort of bond. I think it’s up to us to choose the people we consider to be our family, or maybe tribe is a more appropriate word? I envy people that can honestly say their family is their true family, that seems like a beautiful thing looking in from the outside. I am also realising that it’s not a disaster or a failure on my part that my family doesn’t work like that. I’m respectfully detaching from the sadness and guilt this has caused me over the years. There’s no way I would have found that perspective with the wine countdown echoing through my skull or once the numbness sloshed its way through my veins.

The funeral was packed and we ended up having to stand at the back of the chapel. My auntie was a retired teacher and was always active socially in the local community. From overheard conversations I realised that some of the mourners were her former pupils. I can’t imagine making that much of a contribution and impression on life that so many people would turn up to my funeral. I realised that if I died I doubt my mourners wouldn’t even fill the front pews. This was also food for many challenging thoughts as you can probably imagine. I think my perspective on mourners for my death will be consistent with my thoughts on friends and ‘family’ during my life – quality not quantity.

Reading this back it does seem like a fairly dark post on the surface but it doesn’t feel that way. Some of these realisations have provided a sort of relief and freedom. What could have been a situation that weighed me down ended up providing an unexpectedly light and positive shift in my perspective. Seeing true reality rather than a distorted and numbed version of it is infinitely better, even though it can be tough in the moment.

Wishing you all a good ending to your week. Best wishes and hugs x

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23 thoughts on “A challenging week

  1. feelingmywaybackintolife August 11, 2017 / 6:57 am

    Wonderful post. Thank you. 🙂 Can’t even say what I enjoy / recognise most. 🙂 The amplifyer? The family musings, the ‘who will be at my funeral’ thougths. Our adaptabilty and the strange ‘decissions’we took when drinking. Thank you! 🙂
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 2 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater August 12, 2017 / 9:21 am

      Thank you Feeling! I love hearing that I’m not the only one and constantly amazed by how many similarities we find here. Hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • feelingmywaybackintolife August 12, 2017 / 9:29 am

        Yes to the similarities. ❤
        Did I ever tell you about the book 'Addictive personalities' by Craig Nakken? I read it in my first weeks of being sober. I believe it was written before I even drank my first glass of alcohol but every sentence is applicable to 'my' situation. I was astonished: that the addictive mind set and situations which lead to addiction (lack of healthy family ties amongst others – not saying your family is unhealthy but, you know, in general) is so well described and SO recognisable. Like he wrote it especially for me. 🙂 – said the ego-centric addict. Good book Very much worth reading.
        xx, Feeling.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tiredoftreadingwater August 12, 2017 / 9:44 am

        No, I hadn’t heard of the book before, it sounds interesting and worth checking out, thanks for the recommendation xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • feelingmywaybackintolife August 12, 2017 / 9:46 am

        It has been sold a lot so there are lots 2nd hand versions around too. It is printed at Hazelden press which prints a lot about the subject of addiction. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. S_MW August 11, 2017 / 7:39 am

    “What could have been a situation that weighed me down ended up providing an unexpectedly light and positive shift in my perspective. Seeing true reality rather than a distorted and numbed version of it is infinitely better, even though it can be tough in the moment.”
    I’m so happy to read this. It’s such a positive message, even if it comes out of your attendance at a funeral. X My father-in-law was a heavy drinker when my husband was a kid, and for most of the time I knew him. His death wasn’t a shock really, but the attendance at his funeral WAS! I’d never been to such a small funeral. After a couple of brief stabs at sobriety he’d become a virtual recluse. He’d been a cop and was a funny and intelligent man. I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t that understanding and I didn’t want his grandkids to see him at his worst. I didn’t keep them from him, but I limited visits. I wish I’d been more empathetic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tiredoftreadingwater August 12, 2017 / 9:29 am

      Thank you 🙂 I’m glad that I managed to communicate the positive that came from these strange experiences. Don’t be ashamed about how you approached your father-in-law, it’s probably not a good idea for children to be around drunk, messy adults. Your perspective on addiction will have changed now through your own and your family’s experiences, it’s broader, more knowledgable and definitely empathetic. 🙂 xx

      Like

  3. Elizabeth August 11, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    My condolences TOTW. I also get saddened by the distances within my family. We all love each other but don’t make the time to see each other as often as we could. This feeling only gets stronger with the years flying by. I know there will be regrets one day. As for the memories that make us shake our heads? Oh I have so many but I think that indicates our growth- thank God. We are strong and adaptable creatures and made even more so by our continued sobriety and willingness to face life and not run. Bravo to you for coming through a tough week! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater August 12, 2017 / 9:31 am

      Thank you Elizabeth. I guess life just takes over in many ways making it harder to get together with family and friends. It seems to be a common problem. Growth, facing life and not running all sounds good to me. Have a lovely weekend xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Untipsyteacher August 11, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    I do not see my family very often at all, as they all live someplace else.
    So when I see them in a big group, I feel awkward, too.
    I have not seen my cousins for years.
    Funerals are hard, and they bring up a lot of feelings about loss, life, and so on.
    I am sorry for your loss.
    But I am also glad you found some insights and freedom.
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater August 12, 2017 / 9:33 am

      Thank you Wendy. It does seem like the family distance thing is a common theme for many of us. Hopefully I won’t have any more funerals for a while yet 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. shehidbehindtheglass August 12, 2017 / 1:34 am

    My condolences on your loss. My family is not close either, and I live thousands of miles away from my closest family which doesn’t help that much even with modern technology.
    I do believe that when we are forced to face and work through different feelings when we are sober that it is huge for our personal awareness and growth.
    I hope that your weekend goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater August 12, 2017 / 9:40 am

      Thank you. I’m only a couple of hundred miles away from most of mine but I can’t imagine thousands, that’s a big difference! I also have a feeling that the hard stuff will prove to be worthwhile in the longer term. You have a a lovely weekend too 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark David Goodson August 16, 2017 / 4:42 pm

    Thank you for the well wishes. I’m wishing you a better week now that this one is a week old.

    I’m sorry for your loss. Whether you were close to her or not, that is a difficult thing to go through. I’m glad you chose to post your struggles. Naming our demons and stressors is a great way to take their power away.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jess August 18, 2017 / 4:34 am

    I agree with your thoughts on quality over quantity and that it’s all what we make it, you know? We could have everything in the world, all of the friends and family and other things people tend to crave and still dislike our lives or be depressed or any number of negative things…. I think your perspective is perfect. Also I am glad you were able to make it through a tough time and family event okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiredoftreadingwater August 18, 2017 / 6:53 am

      Thanks Jess 🙂 I wish I could keep that perspective at the forefront of my mind when things are happening but it usually takes a lot of thought after the event to get there. I’m glad too that I made it through and surprised by how much less triggered I was than I thought I would be. I did have a weird dream last night that I had a drink at a family event though – I was so relieved when I woke up and realised I’m still sober ;D x

      Like

  8. reallifeusblog August 19, 2017 / 4:26 am

    Beautiful post. I felt as though I stepped into your shoes, looked through your eyes, felt what was in your heart reading it. So sorry for your loss. -M

    Like

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