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

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

 

Day 103

I’m on 103 days now which is one week away from my longest ever adult sober period. Although the last couple of weeks post-crash haven’t been easy they been a valuable learning experience. Time has applied its miraculous balm, giving me the peace and perspective to reflect clearly on recent events.

I’m beginning to see deeper nuances within my definition of sobriety. I’m visualising them as a series of threads, each one representing one of the myths I have used as an excuse to drink. Some of these threads are becoming increasingly frayed or have already been broken in my mind. Some of them still need attacking with a sharp mental knife.

For example, the fact that I had no desire to drink after my crash is a promising sign that I’m seeing through the myth of alcohol as a way of coping with a traumatic experience. Unfortunately the thread that pulls me toward a drink when I sit out in the sun is definitely still stronger. I’m sure if you’re reading this you can think of a list of your own threads. Maybe the one that craves wine to round out a good meal? How about the one that says you need a drink to relax at the end of a long day at work? I’m hoping that as the various threads break, the bigger tapestry of alcohol craving will begin to unravel. We’ll see…

I recently had a strange alcohol-related experience during a meal with some friends. Out of the four of us at our table only one person ordered alcohol. Two were driving, one was me so that just left my friend who had a beer with his curry. There was a special offer in the restaurant that night and plenty of people were there to eat and get drunk on the cheap. Booze was definitely flowing at many of the other tables. At the end of our meal a waiter suddenly appeared with unsolicited alcohol. His tray held two shots of Baileys (for the ladies) and two shots of brandy (for the guys). I just shook my head and held my hands up to signal a firm but polite ‘NO!’ but he did put the other three drinks on the table. Only one and a bit of the drinks ended up getting drunk.

How inappropriate was that?! WTF! I’m just glad it wasn’t a glass of red coming at me. We went for a stroll after dinner and I brought it up for discussion. Everybody agreed that it was a major error in judgement from what is otherwise a lovely place to eat.

I managed to get back out into the woods today. I didn’t make it last week and I really missed it. It’s definitely become a much-needed part of my sober toolbox. The trees are out in blossom at the moment and the sweet, woody smell is divine. I did a fairly long walk and came home feeling good.

My car admin is still in progress. I have received a surprisingly fair insurance valuation so I’m just waiting for the payment to process so I can get my new(er) car next week. I can’t wait. I’m currently in a hire car which I’m not keen on. I don’t like having responsibility for an expensive car that isn’t mine. I have that niggling feeling that if somebody even farts near it there’ll be some sort of surcharge involved. It’s also bugging my sciatica which isn’t good.

I hope you lovely folks are having a good sober week. Hugs and sober vibes to anybody who’s struggling at the moment x

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 😀