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

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Trying differently

I could feel my mood of the last few days going downhill to some possibly bad places so I decided to get off my butt and do something different. Inspired by reading some great outdoor activity posts at soberisland’s blog I pushed myself to get out and do something outdoorsy.

There’s a lovely country park that’s less than 3 miles from my house and disappointingly, I’ve probably not been more than 3 times in the decade that I’ve lived in the area. I’d wanted to do it earlier in the week but couldn’t summon the motivation to go out in the rain. When the sun appeared yesterday I decided to go for it.

It was absolutely wonderful. I ended up walking almost 4 miles through sunny woodland trails like this:

woodland

It affected me on a really deep, subtle level that I can’t quite define. It was one of those quiet, long, YES! feelings; a remembering of something essential that I hadn’t even realised I’d forgotten. At one point, I found a nice spot to take a rest and breathe in the sunshine and nature:

woodland2

I could feel my mind getting quieter and calmer whilst the damp, earthy smells and sights trickled into some inner void, filling and recharging me. I’m still stunned at the effect it’s had on me, I feel like I’ve had a total reset. I’ve been restful, focused, productive and mellow since yesterday. I’ve resolved to get out and do this at least once a week from now on. My own weekly ‘meeting’ with the healing higher power of nature. I can buy an annual car park pass that will give me access to a number of local woodlands and lakes for about the price of 10 bottles of cheap wine. What a bargain!

The Japanese have been prescribing Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing to their stressed out city dwellers for decades. There seems to be some scientific basis to support it too. Trees release chemicals called phytoncides which are like tree essential oils. Inhaling them apparently has a number of healing benefits for your mood, energy and immune system.

I’m so happy I made myself venture out yesterday, it’s made a whole world of difference. I’m glad I tried something different.

Have a good sober day folks, and if you get the chance, go sniff a tree 😀