6 months and a week

I was going to post last week to mark 6 months but things ended up getting hectic for various reasons and I didn’t get round to it. Better late than never though.

I was wondering if things would shift and feel different at this landmark and they have, but unfortunately I can’t say it’s all in a good way. At this point my mind is not as focused on not drinking to the exclusion of other thoughts. In a way this is good; I’m feeling more secure in my sobriety and less of my mental energy is required to sustain it. The bad side is that this energy is now freed up to focus on other stuff and the other stuff is often the stuff I was drinking to avoid thinking about in the first place. Damn!

I’m at a stage in my life where I’m beginning to feel comfortable in my skin and in the way I am. I spend many happy hours chilling out at home with my creative work, reading, sofa cuddling with my cat and/or fella and various other simple, sober pursuits. My inner and home landscapes are becoming generally calm. Where it goes wrong is when I leave my solitude and sanctuary and step out the front door.

I’ve always felt like I somehow landed on the wrong planet. Other than the occasional blessed weirdos that I’ve been honoured to find as friends I find little to relate to in what most people (and society in general) seem to consider normal, admirable or fun. And is it me or do so many people seem angry and cranky when they’re out and about? Maybe I’m focusing on the wrong things and tending to see the negative stuff. I know that a bias toward paying attention to threatening or aggressive events is a deeply ingrained survival instinct but it really got to me yesterday.

I got up in the early hours and spent a few hours reading on the sofa with the cat. Then I headed out to the country park for a walk and some berry foraging. This was all pleasant and good. On the way home I went to do some grocery shopping and things went downhill.

On my way into the shop car park I would usually go straight ahead but I noticed that area looked particularly busy and there were some spaces to the left so as a last split-second decision I turned left instead. It was so quick a decision I didn’t have chance to indicate which I admit was my bad. People not indicating is a real peeve for me and I’ve quietly cursed people often enough for not doing it. The one extremely rare time I don’t do it there is of course somebody there that felt the need to bellow abuse at me through our open windows. I guess that’s some sort of annoying karma in action.

I tried to shake that off, did my shopping and headed home. On the way I had a near miss on a roundabout which would have been an action replay of my recent crash. Somebody cut me up trying to overtake from the wrong lane. Luckily (?) it was a real lad-racer type who accelerated so fast he got past in time but I was so fucking pissed off and shaken up. I couldn’t wait to just get home, close the front door of my sanctuary and shut out the world for the rest of the day.

A hand-delivered information sheet from the local police was waiting for me at home. There have been a spate of local burglaries and I was informed that my home is considered at heightened risk of being broken into. FFS! Talk about bad timing 😦 The whole sequence of events just left me feeling a bit raw, overly sensitive, exposed and psychologically slapped around. Without the option to do the crap ‘too drunk to care’ thing I’m feeling some low-level but nagging anxiety creeping in at the moment. I’m breathing and watching, and eating too many doughnuts… it’ll pass.

It wasn’t all bad. I had a pleasant chat about blackberry locations with a man waiting for his sweet granddaughter who felt the need to pick up every stray branch she passed. There were friendly smiles and hellos from other walkers (and their dogs). There was sunshine and refreshing breezes. There were abundant blackberries and elderberries to pick. There was the meditative task of stripping elderberries from the branches while sitting in the garden. I know there is a lot of good in the world too, it’s just sometimes hard to notice the quieter whisper amid the noise, stress and chaos.

So, my 6 months post turned out not to be overly celebratory but I guess it’s just where I’m at for the moment. Wishing everybody a lovely sober and un-stressful weekend whatever you get up to x

10 weeks

Fortunately it’s been one of those blessed weeks where I’ve had no cravings. My mind has been peaceful and free from those dreaded one-person debates, bargaining, fear or denial. For this I am truly grateful.

Something else I’ve noticed this week is a shifting sense of how I perceive my days passing. It’s a bit hard to put into words. When I think back to when I was drinking I never felt like I was really living each day. Most people think of cliched excesses at the mention of ‘living life to the full’ but that’s not what I mean. I remember a feeling each week when it was time to go back to work; a feeling of not really knowing where the last few days had gone. I would have lost so much time to being drunk or hungover that I always had a sense of having done nothing. There would be small jobs left undone, ideas left unexplored, books left unread etc. I remember it as if I were looking over my own shoulder, watching my life pass by, almost as if it were happening to somebody else.

In my currently sober life I’m getting a different feeling at the end of the week. I know where my time has gone. I’ve been present in each moment. I’ve (mostly) kept on top of the little jobs, explored the ideas, read the books and so much more. I feel like I’m inhabiting my days rather than just watching them pass by. I’ve shifted my point of view from looking over my own shoulder to being properly in the centre of my body, in the centre of my days. I don’t know if that makes any sense?!

I also finally tried some non-alcoholic wine this week. It’s not something I’ve ever thought of buying before but I wanted to take some reference photographs of a wine bottle and glass of wine for an image I want to create. There’s no way I was going to do it with real red wine so I bought the NA version.

It was interesting. The flavour wouldn’t fool anybody, it tasted quite different from the real thing – far more of a difference than you get with NA beer. It wasn’t unpleasant but it wasn’t great either. It was like grape juice with some sort of extra flavour added in. I could imagine it being useful camouflage at a gathering if you wanted to ward off having to have ‘that conversation’ about not drinking. I thought there would be more of a familiarly ritualistic feeling to drinking something dark red out of a wine glass. I was cautious about this but it didn’t hit the spot in any way, it didn’t really feel satisfying. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t trigger another person who tried it, I’m just reporting how it went for me. I’ve taken my photos so I don’t think I’ll be buying it again in a hurry.

I’ve been out playing in the woods again this week. I did a long walk and then made my first attempts at foraging. I learned the hard way that nettles can sting through standard household rubber gloves. I got stung so many times that in the end my picking hand stopped registering it. It’s been many years since I got nettle stung and I forgot that it’s the sting that keeps on stinging. It’s taken 2 days for me to stop getting zingy shocks in my fingers each time I touch something.

The results were quite satisfying though. I made nettle soup, nettle and veggie thai green curry and I put a load in my dehydrator to dry for nettle tea. I’m loving my new outdoors hobbies. Next week I’m going to a different woodland in search of wild garlic. I’ve also found a fairly local research/preservation orchard (and nuttery) that encourages public picking. I’m looking ahead to find different places to explore and to pick different things as the seasons change. It feels so, so good to get excited about new things and possibilities.

I think the extra exercise is also really helping me. My mood has been fairly buoyant this week and I’m feeling fitter. Today I’ve been slouching around in leggings and I caught a look at my butt in the mirror – I think that’s slouching a bit less than it has been too 😀 Yeah!

Wishing you all a lovely, safe, sober weekend folks. Hugs and strength to anybody struggling, bye for now x