Hi all. I’m still here and still sober. I’ve really been neglecting this blog but it’s mainly for the best of reasons with a light sprinkling of laziness and procrastination thrown in. I’ve recently been feeling pretty inspired and have been busy working on creative projects. I have the kind of clarity of mind and the ability to focus that has been missing for a long, long time due to my drinking. I don’t plan to waste it. I’m also busy at work, it’s silly season in retail, meh!
Now I am starting to see my one year date on the horizon. I’m not taking anything for granted but I’m also not fearful that I won’t make it. I remember when lasting three days was a struggle and when thirty seemed impossible. Now I’m feeling very fortunate that I’ve done more than ten (and a half) of those in a row.
Looking through some old notebooks I found notes making plans to do a ‘YOLS’. I’d forgotten about that. It was my discreet acronym for a year of living sober. I’m not sure when it was from but I think it may even predate this blog. I’ve evidently been thinking about this for such a long time and now, finally, I find myself contemplating this significant milestone.
I’ve previously tried to imagine this point many times. As with so many of our fears or expectations, most of what I imagined doesn’t match the reality.
I imagined that the decision whether or not to drink again at this stage would be one still based on struggle and fear. Maybe I’d want to try drinking again but I’d be too scared of it all escalating again? I thought I’d be torn – do I? Don’t I? Instead I find myself ready to renew my sober vow to myself out of excitement, curiosity and determination. Not what I was expecting but, I’ll take it!
I visualise this as being like hiking up a big mountain, it’s probably the best way to express how I’m feeling. The beginning of the hike was dreadful. Every step took a huge amount of effort. I had no idea how I was going to keep going. Everything hurt, I was unfit and ill-prepared. The summit looked a million miles away. As the days, weeks and months passed I got fitter, stronger and more experienced and the steps forward became progressively easier. It’s not all been plain sailing (or hiking). At times I felt exhausted and demotivated and wanted to just give up and slide back down the mountain. Many times I wondered if it was all really necessary or worth it. At other times I felt all pink cloudy and fired up, confidently striding onwards and upwards. It’s definitely been a mixed year.
Now, the one year summit is in sight. I’m feeling fit and strong and the final few weeks of the hike don’t intimidate me. I know there are always opportunities to slip or fall but I keep my eyes carefully on the path ahead. The idea of drinking again when I finally reach the summit now seems as crazy as doing a real hike up a mountain and then not bothering to stop and admire the view. Why on earth would I waste all that effort?
I have thought that making it to one year would somehow be the end of the process but now I suspect it’s actually going to be a new beginning. Now I’ve got to the stage where I’m spending very little mental energy on not drinking it’s all been freed up to do other stuff that I couldn’t focus on before. I’m not big on new years’ resolutions, never have been, but I’ve vowed that 2018 is the year I’m finally going to make my creative stuff pay. The quality and consistency of my work has definitely increased in the last few months.
I can feel a return of the positivity and determination that I had when I was younger. That feeling that even though stuff might be hard, I can DO shit. Also that feeling that I CAN, and WILL, find a way to make things happen, even if the HOW is not immediately obvious. There are also more frequent moments of peace and contentment, sometimes in the strangest contexts – just bog-standard ordinary moments rather than overtly ‘good’ times. I find gratitude comes easier these days and I’ve definitely noticed a general swing towards a more positive mental attitude.
I still find dealing with life and the world difficult at times. I have sensitive introvert tendencies and events often feel way too ‘in my face’ but I find that in my new clarity I can usually summon that little ounce of extra courage to get out there and attempt things in spite of my anxiety. And if something does go wrong or my mood drops then it’s easier to move through it and learn my lessons if I actually feel the difficult feelings rather than hide away from them behind the drinking.
So, next month I will be waving goodbye to my first year of sobriety and welcoming the beginning of year two with a little bit of trepidation but mostly with anticipation. I’m not sure where it will take me yet but I am sure it has to be better than where a return to drinking would lead. I still don’t say I have quit forever, it’s more a foreseeable future kind of thing. This feels too strong, too real and too hopeful to imagine wanting to let that false friend back into my life any time soon though…
I hope folks are coping well with the Christmas / holidays party onslaught. One of the good things about being an introverted hermit and working a lot over this season is that I don’t really have to deal with all that. A quiet meal with friends is hopefully as hectic as it gets for me. New years eve will be spent at work this year which I’m fine with. I’ve always found it an over-priced, over-rated and over-hyped excuse for a drunken shit-show – not that I’ve needed much excuse in the past as you all know.
Sending you all some extra sober strength to deal with the seasonal chaos and I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂 x