Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The big adjustment

If you are embarking on a mission to remove alcohol from your life and get sober, it's no understatement to say it's probably going to be one of the most monumental processes you're ever going to go through.

I remember when I first quit drinking it was like I was an intergalactic traveller that had been plonked down on an entirely different planet. I moved around as though I was hindered by a ginormous spacesuit, struggling to interact with others or even sit comfortably with myself for any length of time.

I lurched from emotional state to emotional state - one minute deeply sad, the next irate, then nervy, followed closely by bored. Anything slightly troublesome or problematic caused me to jerk uncomfortably into action. I'd frantically look around for some sort of remedy for my woes.

Oh, I'm sad! I need something to take this sadness away!

Yikes, I'm grumpy! Quick help me deal with this anger!

OMG I'm bored! How can I make this boredom go away!

I was looking for quick fixes. Fast solutions. Easy remedies. Because of course that is what I was used to. My usual fix/solution/remedy to any sort of feeling (but especially the uncomfortable ones) was just one pour away. It was alcohol. Alcohol had always been my main man, my go-to problem solver, my beloved cure-all.

So with alcohol out of the picture and life stuff keeping on happening, the biggest adjustment for me was learning how to relax about my feelings and stop grasping for instant solutions. To put it bluntly I had to learn how to chill out and slow the fuck down.

And this is the big adjustment in sobriety I think. This is the crux of what getting quitting booze is all about. When we remove our liquid solution we have to learn to relax into whatever is going on - as uncomfortable as it may be - allow it to occur, allow feelings to be just as they are, trust that things will shift and change, and chill.

Sounds easy but in practice it is not and I have to be honest and say it took me an awfully long time to do this. But now, six years after my last drink, I am a far more chilled out version of myself than I ever was. I am used to feeling the whole range of my emotions. I have stopped looking for something, anything, to help me deal with shit. I have relaxed.

There's a great mindfulness saying which is 'respond don't react' which would make a very good mantra for people getting sober. When we're in active addiction we are reacting constantly - taking quick actions based on immediate, surface feelings. The problem is when we do this we aren't pausing to give the wise, calm parts of ourselves a change to get involved. Acting responsively, on the other hand, is much better because we're pausing to take stock and giving ourselves time to respond in a calmer and more considered way.

To live reactively is quick and hard. To live responsively is gentle and soft.

To live as a boozer is quick and hard. To live sober is gentle and soft.

This is the big adjustment. It takes time and it takes work. But know that the longer you go not drinking the more naturally you will calm down into a more responsive way of living.

And trust me, that's a great way to be.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Sunday, September 3, 2017

SIX!!! (a mighty fine number of sober years).

Heading for a big Soberversary and am quite excited about that. In 3 days time I will be SIX years sober!! Woo Hoo!!

Soberversaries are funny things though.. especially early on I remember building up to them and being weirdly let down when they failed to deliver anything particularly special. There was always that realisation that it's just another sober day in a long line of sober days.. and that celebrations aren't the big (boozy) things that they used to be.

Because lets face it - any celebration in my former life would involve champagne - like somehow adding bubbles to alcohol made it more festive. I suppose bubbles are festive but you know what I mean... celebrations were just another excuse for me to drink more than I usually did.

But as the years have gone by and I've settled into my sober life I've gotten used to more gentle and subtle emotions, and in doing so I've come to enjoy Soberversaries for their authentic nature. They're not artificially forced high points that come from a bottle. They're authentic and meaningful which is far more satisfying ... and I appreciate everything they provide.

They provide me with an opportunity to reflect on how far I've come.

They provide me with an increased appreciation for having left my disconnected boozy lifestyle behind.

They provide me with a day full of quiet pride and joy.

They provide me with a reason to treat myself in little special ways.

They provide me with an excuse to shout my achievement on social media which hopefully helps others.

And they provide me with a new lovely number to claim for my own. And boy do I love watching that number climb.

SIX! What a mighty fine number of sober years that is. I love how it keeps climbing. I can't wait to get to 10, 15.. even 20 years!!!!!! I love being in long-term recovery. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Not saying it's fun and easy all the time - no way. But being sober is incredibly rewarding precisely because it's hard bloody work a lot of the time.

And we all know hard work never killed anybody and I'm certainly up for the challenge of life in the raw every single day.

Love, Mrs D xxx