Approaching six months

I’m still doing ok here as I approach the six months mark although I had the most intense craving I’ve had for a while pop up last week after a stressful visit to the vet. My usually mellow cat turns into a yowling four-legged freak-out on vet day so it’s hard work. While we were in the waiting room a tiny, cute puppy went in to have a microchip fitted and its screeching yelps of pain could probably have been heard from the car park. The poor thing was shaking like a leaf when it came out. Distressed animals stress me out too. In the car on the way home I said to my partner, ‘I could really handle a glass (bottle) of wine right now.’ He looked shocked and told me not to say that. I wasn’t going to do it, I knew that, but it’s obviously still an association I haven’t broken.

I’ve been thinking a lot about work matters recently. I’m still experimenting with my commercially-aimed illustration work but I’m beginning to suspect that making a success of that still won’t provide enough meaning, purpose and fulfilment in the long term. Earning an income that way would of course be an improvement on my current job. I could work from home, do fun, creative stuff, not commute, not have to be polite to customers who are being assholes etc. It’s still a goal but I also have some other ideas about what that could be combined with in the future…

I’ve been considering training as a counsellor for a while now. I keep looking at the courses, pondering and then filing it away in the back of my mind. It’s a long process which would take a few years and a few thousand pounds but I’m fortunate that I could afford to pay for it slowly over that time. It’s general counsellor training but there would be an option to specialise in addiction counselling later on. Maybe if that were combined with qualifications in mindfulness-based stress reduction, CBT and other such things I could become somebody who helps people to find their way out of addiction? It’s an exciting thought, scary too. I can see meaning and purpose down that route but I don’t know if I’m the right person to be doing it.

A few weeks ago I wrote that poem called ‘Why not today?’ Maybe it’s time to stop putting this on the back burner? I’m going to fill in the college application form this week and get the process started. The course doesn’t start until January 2018 when I will hopefully be hitting one year sober. I love the thought of studying again too. I loved my student days the first time round and I loved the atmosphere back when I did some tertiary college lecturing too. Yayy!! It’s exciting 🙂

I worked last night so now I’m nicely tired and ready for bed soon. Sober hugs and strength to all 🙂 x

160 days

I’m over five months sober now. Crikey! I had a week or so of feeling really blah, just uninspired and restless. I was mourning the pink cloud days and getting into a bit of an ‘Is this it?’ sort of slump. One day I was feeling particularly scattered, frustrated and cranky so I did my self-care duty and went to the woods for a walk.

I’d been sitting on my butt for a couple of days and my right hip felt tight and painful. I started slowly and concentrated on the beautiful surroundings. Gradually my mood improved and I remembered how much I need physical activity to feel good. Once I got warmed up, I really got going. I was yomping along in a really strange mood that I can’t quite describe. I think ‘fierce’ is the best word for how I felt. It just crept up on me. I made sure I put on a friendly smile whenever I passed somebody in an attempt to not look weird or scary. I probably shouldn’t have worried though. I’ve been repeatedly told that I look sweet, innocent and even angelic (huh?) No matter what darkness is stirring on the inside, on the outside I apparently look about as badass as Bambi.

That fierce, determined feeling seems to have stuck around to a degree. I’ve been looking forwards and getting fired up by lots of creative ideas and life possibilities. I have a sense of being ready to open up and explore, to grab hold of life in a way I never could while drinking. The balance seems to have tipped even more away from the ‘look what I’m giving up’ thoughts towards the ‘holy shit, look what I’m getting!’ thoughts. I appreciate the shift very much and I hope it continues. I also accept that it may not. I’ll make the most of it for now.

I’ve set up a separate blog for my illustrated poems and other creative sobriety-related stuff. I want to keep it completely separate from here. This blog is more my personal warts and all, let it all hang out kind of space. The other one is going to be more of an inspirational quotes, ideas and resources spot. I’m still not ready to go loud and proud so I’m writing it under a pseudonym and the artwork is different enough from my more commercially aimed work that I won’t ‘out’ myself (I hope). If you’ve enjoyed the bits of poetry I’ve posted here then come and visit at relightinglife.com. That’s the only time I’ll link to it and I definitely won’t be linking from there to here. Yup, separate it is.

I now have that wonderfully, thoroughly tired feeling that only physical exertion can bring. I walked almost 9 miles this morning. My legs are aching and I’m hearing my bed calling my name. I wonder if I can managed an episode of Game of Thrones before I fall asleep? I’m going to try 🙂

I hope you’ve all had a good week and wishing you a lovely weekend whatever you’re up to. Love and sober hugs x

 

Life is a seesaw

It’s been a real rollercoaster ride of ups and downs since I last posted. I’m still sober though, on day 50 now.

I had a very hard time sleeping for a few days, I worked 4 nights in a row whilst my neighbours were fitting a kitchen. Imagine you’ve just settled down in bed at 11pm, tired and ready to sleep and then then house starts vibrating and shaking with heavy drilling and hammering. Of course, that would be illegal in most places and just wouldn’t happen. Flip it 12 hours and there’s nothing you can do. It’s hell for nightshifters. It’s been a long time since I remember feeling that tired, run-down and desperate. It passed though, it always passes. Their work is finished and I’m off work for a week now so all is good again. I’m currently spending 10-12 hours in bed each night to make up for it.

I’ve also had a slightly frightening reminder about a different type of drinking trigger that affects me – being over excited about something. When I read about other people’s triggers or think about my own I tend to find that they are generally negative events such as sadness, boredom, feeling left out socially, depression or stress. For me there’s also definitely a flip side.

It’s a side of me I’ve not experienced for a long time which is in itself a mixture of good and bad. I remember many times when I’ve been gripped by the creative urge and got swept up into a hyper excited and hyperactive state. It’s the sort of feeling that makes you jump out of bed and work day and night on something. It’s amazing but it can also be frightening. I’ve had many occasions where I’ve wondered whether I was tipping over the edge into a manic state, whether I could be affected by bipolar disorder. I have sometimes ended up looking like a sugar-rushing toddler, fidgeting, pacing around, talking to myself. The end point of these hyperactive creative sessions has usually involved dousing down the feeling with large amounts of wine so I can ‘come down’ and finally sleep.

I also remember drinking heavily after finding out I’d got a job I really wanted, or after scoring a hefty freelance contract, or having met an exciting new man. These are all positive, exciting things so why did they usually result in destructive levels of drinking?

To sum it up, I think it’s just another version of being overwhelmed by strong feelings. Sometimes even extremely good feelings can get too much. For example, an orgasm feels wonderful in the moment but imagine if you got stuck in that feeling 24/7; you’d quickly become non-functioning in your daily life. It probably wouldn’t be great medically either. You can definitely have too much of a good thing.

I’m feeling reconnected to that creative ‘fire’ at the moment. It’s one of the things that got drowned out by my heavy drinking. I’m very happy that it’s back. It’s an important part of me that I don’t want to lose. Like any kind of fire I know I need to handle it with care though. It brought along the strongest craving to drink I’ve had in the last 50 days, probably the only strong craving in fact. I have been having mild ‘restless’ sort of cravings but they are few and far between and fairly easy to dismiss. Those cravings feel like they’re whispering from a distance now rather than shouting in my ear. Those cravings have become like hapless salesmen trying to sell me something crap that I don’t want. The manic high cravings are somewhat tougher. They are going to need more of my sober tools to deal with.

So although I’d say that generally, things are good at the moment, I do feel like I’m walking around on a seesaw trying to find a new balance point. Things in my life feel like they are changing and growing and it can be uncomfortable at times. I’d rather this though than continuing to tread water in a deep pool of wine.

It feels odd to be up and about on a Saturday with a full weekend stretching out before me. I’m usually just going to bed now. My partner is away visiting family so I have the house to myself to just potter. I have a few simple things in mind to do today – some drawing, gardening, a walk, some cooking, a sauna and a hot bath maybe.

I hope everybody else has a good sober weekend too. Keep going, keep sharing your journeys x