reflecting and expanding.

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Tomorrow I will be 5 weeks sober. I’ve been thinking a lot about what has gotten me to this point. Those of you who read my blog will know that I have been trying for months to get sober. I had 20 days last March or April, and almost a month this summer (but I had stopped posting), and COUNTLESS day 1’s, 2’s and 3’s in between.

A sense of belonging to this sober blogging community has helped me a lot. These blogs have been here for me and not a day has gone by that I haven’t checked in online. I am not a big poster. I have no intention of becoming a writer. I enjoy writing, and I used to aspire to write, but it’s not the most important thing to me. Really, reading these blogs every day, commenting, connecting, and learning about everyone’s tools and strategies has been so important on my path to sobriety. I have a couple of sober penpals that I email with, which is amazing.

This is a concept from AA, and I don’t totally understand it yet, but surrendering has been something that has been working for me. Surrender to what, I am not completely sure. The universe, maybe? Life energy? It is more the fact that I surrender the fight. I give up trying to control my desire to drink. I give up on the internal dialogue telling me that somehow it will be okay to drink again, or that I can magically moderate now. The urge comes to drink, the thoughts come trying to convince me it’s okay, I start the back and forth, and I just say to myself, “Self… Surrender. Give it up. Let it go. Move on.”

I was emailing with an addiction counsellor, someone that I had met a bunch of years back under different circumstances, and he said to me that the trick of addiction is the thinking of “just one more”. He said if I can break that pattern of thought then my life will open up. My drinking has been a series of Just One More Night and Then I’ll Stop. The problem is, there is always another night! There is always tomorrow. It is never ending. So as soon as I hear myself think something along these lines, I remember that this thinking is the problem. It is a big giant lie. And so I try to live in the moment and I don’t drink.

Just as much as a lie is the illusion of how good it feels to drink. I had some good times, this is for certain! It was all sex drugs and rock n’ roll for a lot of years, and I wouldn’t give a lot of that up. But it had pretty much stopped being fun. I was miserable and trapped in a self-imposed prison. This is becoming clearer and clearer to me. The beginning of a drinking evening, that might feel good for a bit, is always going to lead me to a place that I hate. That is just the truth.

Things were pretty dark. My turning point to get me where I am right now was actually the suicide of Robin Williams and the suicide of my husband’s friend this summer. I don’t want to die and I realized that it could be possible for me to feel so low and in a moment of despair, end it. I don’t mean to sound morbid, I am just being honest. I had been connecting the dots for a while now and seeing how awful my mental health became when I drank heavily (which was usually how I drank). I decided that I wanted to do whatever it took to not feel that way anymore. I decided to go through whatever I had to go through to get sober. To feel all the feelings. I am only starting my healing, obviously, but I have to say that I already feel so much better. I feel joy and peace and confidence and excitement.

I think I am being brave, and slowly, the veil is lifting. My vision and my life is starting to expand.

I have started to think about other things that make me feel alive, and have started to do those things more. Yoga, hiking, spending time with friends, being outside, reading, learning, seeing independent films, cooking while listening to music. I have started to dream about what I want to do with my life again. For me, this has been crucial. Doing all of these things sober, so far, has been hard at first, but excellent. I feel moved a lot of the time, like my senses are coming alive. I feel inspired again. I am having beautiful moments of serenity and connection. And this is only the beginning!

Anais Nin was right. Have courage.

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liebster award and 30 days

Today is 30 days without a drink. I have tried not to focus so much on counting days but this is a milestone! This is the longest I have gone without a drink since I started this journey back in February. It has taken me a while to get here. But it takes what it takes. And I couldn’t be happier to be here! I feel good.I feel excited about life again.

Thank you to all you fine, fine people out there who have inspired and supported me along the way. Big love to you all!

The awesome Court_Knee @ http://youngdrunk.wordpress.com nominated me for a Liebster Award. I don’t really know what it is but I like questions so here it goes… I’m supposed to post 11 facts about myself, answer 11 questions from my nominator, and then nominate 11 other blogs with under 200 followers, and ask them 11 questions.

11 facts about myself

1. I love pickle and peanut butter sandwiches! Try it, it’s so yummy.

2. I am never without at least 3-4 pieces of silver jewellery on. Never gold.

3. I lived in a tent on a tropical beach for 2 months once.

4. One thing I am good at is drawing designs, lettering and fonts.

5. I am afraid of heights.

6. I don’t know how to whistle.

7. I am a huge cat lover but I am allergic to them now so I am thinking seriously about getting a dog.

8. I used to be a sprinter and actually won a lot of sport awards, when I was younger.

9. I feel my best when I am in the woods.

10. My favourite food is Japanese- in particular spicy tuna sashimi. And anything with miso or ponzu sauce.

11. I absolutely love the idea home grown food, but I am a disaster when it comes to gardening! I have black thumbs!

If you could change one thing about your country what would it be?

Good lord, where do I start?? Our relationship with First Nations people, most of all. People in this country think of Canada as this great “peaceful” nation, yet we have the darkest past. Our government, in cooperation with churches, stole Indigenous children from their families and tribes and put them into residential schools where they were taught their culture was savage and inferior. Much abuse happened. Treaties were not honoured, land was stolen, people were killed. It is disgraceful. And the version of history we teach in schools does not tell the whole story- so there is so much racism today.

And don’t get me started on our current government… our Prime Minister is a disaster. Does not care about women, children or the environment. It is shameful to be a Canadian today.

What is the thing that makes you unbelievably proud of your country?

In light of our past and our current government, it is tough to think of something. More than our country as a whole, I am proud of some things and people that come out of it. Greenpeace originated in Canada, that’s pretty neat. David Suzuki is another great Canadian. Naomi Klein too.

* edit- I am also proud that my country legalized gay marriage 10 years ago. That is something to celebrate!

Do you remember your dreams? If so, what was the last one to affect you?

Yes I remember them a lot. I tend to dream a lot about people and things in my past. I had a dream two nights ago that I had started smoking again and was trying to quit but was just realizing that I was hooked. That was yucky.

If the blogging genie came to you and offered you three blogging related wishes what would they be?

I don’t know if I can come up with three. Probably I would wish that I felt inspired to write more than I actually do. I go through periods of time when I just don’t feel like posting.

If you had an opportunity to explore an undiscovered area in outer space or on earth which would you choose?

I would love to know if there was other intelligent life forms out there in other galaxies!

Why did you start blogging? 

I’ve always liked to write as a way to express myself. I’ve kept journals on and off since I was 8 years old. But seeing as I can type faster than I can write, blogging seemed like a logical evolution. Also, to write down what has been going around and around in my head. I think somehow it’s been helping me get into action mode. Finally, I guess I hope that others will see themselves in my writing. To connect with others across time and space who relate to me and I to them. Because I don’t have people in my life who understand what I am going through.

What is your one, ultimate, life-long dream?

Hard to pick one! I’ve always just wanted to experience as much as possible in this lifetime. Travelling to as many places as possible is high on my list of priorities.

If you had to give up your other achievements to accomplish that dream, would you? 

Travelling is important to me but being happy in the day in day out is important too. I don’t think I would give up everyday happiness for travelling. And I find everyday happiness in my family, friends, work, and being in nature. It’s about balance to me.

Do you believe in ghosts? Or aliens?

Ghosts… not so much. I’m more of a reincarnation gal. Aliens… well, I’m open to the possibility. I think that there must be other intelligent life forms out there somewhere… but whether or not they travel or come to earth is where I’m not so sure.

What religion intrigues you the most? ( It doesn’t have to be your own religion or you don’t have to be religious. Just one that interests you – good or bad)

All religions intrigue me, but I have to say that Buddhism is the one that interests me the most. I love studying it. I love meditation, and I enjoy the psychology of the 4 noble truths. It’s the religion that makes the most sense to me, I suppose.

It says we are supposed to nominate 11 others but that’s a lot!

So, I’d like to nominate just a few that I’ve been enjoying lately. Same questions 🙂

http://ainsobriety.wordpress.com

http://mallards4us.wordpress.com

http://howtovomitpolitely.wordpress.com

the smallness of things.

Lately I’ve been having this feeling. Like my life is really small. I said this to my partner the other day and he didn’t quite get it. I guess his life doesn’t feel that small. Lucky guy. 

As a result of my drinking career, I think my life shrank. It just feels sometimes like I could take everything in my life and fit it in a shoebox. That the ins and outs of my day feel so little and inconsequential.

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This is Friday night at my house.

I just move through the routines of life, the minutia of everyday being. A couple of years ago I started to realize that somewhere along the way I had stopped dreaming. I used to have plans, man. Dreams! Life was an expanding range of possibilities. I used to feel that there were WIDE OPEN SPACES IN WHICH TO GROW. Life was a mystery waiting to unfold. I did not know where it was going to take me. I travelled in my early twenties, like many people do, and I lived in other countries, fell in love a billion times, and made decisions that took me on great adventures.

I think I thought that life would always be like this. 

I didn’t really imagine myself in a marriage like relationship- although I’ve always been in relationships- and I didn’t really know the kind of commitment and compromise that comes with building a life with someone. I didn’t imagine that I would want children. And when I did start to want them, this felt like a dream too. I dreamt of building a family and living in love every day, nestled in a home in the woods, on an island, close to the rest of our extended family. 

I went to some goal setting workshops, about 6 years ago, and my writings and drawings from that are full of things like family, love, nature, knowledge, yoga, friends, fun, travel… Even though through all of this time I was drinking, and I was concerned about my drinking, it hadn’t taken over my life. I thought about many other things, I made plans, I got excited. 

Somewhere along the way this all stopped. What happened? What happened to the dreams and the plans and the feeling that life was an exciting adventure?

Well, a few things… My focus of having children and building a family shifted when we struggled to conceive. After a couple of years of this, I just gave up. And then when I was ready again, my partner decided he was done. I decided to go back to school, which was always a dream of mine too. I started a master’s program and found it incredibly difficult and isolating. In this shift of trying to conceive, and going back to school, I started to pull away from friends who were partying, in the attempt to become more healthy and grounded or focussed or something. But really, what I did was I just drank alone at home. I couldn’t go out with friends much anymore because when I did I’d get home at 5am. I had papers to write so I would prefer to stay home and get drunk so I could go to bed by midnight.

And, the more I tried to control alcohol, the more controlled I became by it. I constantly thought about alcohol. I searched for ways to stop. I cried in the morning when I woke up hungover and unable to cope with my day, and I cried at night feeling desperate and alone. 

You might wonder where my partner was through all of this. Mostly, he was at work. 

In many ways, I drank myself into a corner. Even though it may have not made my life appear any worse on the outside, it has, in the last year or two, progressively deteriorated the quality of my life. I haven’t been able to stop drinking yet I haven’t been able to enjoy it either. I’ve been obsessed with it.  I drank for many reasons, but most of all to escape myself and my feelings. I went through years of knowing I probably had a problem, but because drinking excessively was so normalized in my social circle, and because I was able to achieve things and reach goals, I always thought it was something I would be able to control. I was able to take some “breaks” sometimes which convinced me that I had a handle on it. 

But it got to the point where I was drinking a lot every night, mostly by myself, that I would feel so sick and exhausted and be calling in sick to work, and then I would try to quit and white knuckle it through everyday. I remember one day I actually hit myself in the head the cravings were so strong. As if harming myself would make it go away. The thinking about drinking was non-stop. The cycle was relentless. 

I guess all that thinking about drinking has filled my head so much that there hasn’t been a lot of space for other thoughts to develop and grow. I’m done school now- have been since last December. I’m in a new phase of my career. We don’t have children (my partner has a son but he lives in a different city) and likely are not going to. I’ve kind of isolated myself from my friends- my drinking circle anyways. And, my partner is still at work.

Saying that I don’t know what to do with myself is an understatement.

But I still do DO things, like go to yoga sometimes, go for hikes or walks with my girlfriends, visit my family (they all live in a different city too), go to my book club, etc. So is it my life that is small… or is it just… me? Is it my thinking and my attitude?

I have a lot to be grateful for. Yes, my life shrank thoughout the course of my drinking and going back to school and giving up the dream of children. Those were real pains and struggles. But my life is good. I don’t want to focus on what I have lost anymore. And I want to start dreaming again. I want to connect to that expanse of life. That wilderness, the unknown, the possibility of it all. And what I’m realizing is that it’s all inside of me. My life shrank inside my head, and so it did in my surroundings. Getting sober, I’m realizing, there’s so much I can explore. I can explore not only the vastness of the external world, but of my internal world as well. I don’t have to be trapped in that nauseating cycle of drinking and hangovers that utterly consumed my mental capacity! I can think about other stuff. I can do other stuff. 

I have been concerned at my life is small. But today I realized, if my life feels small, it is only because I make it so. I have the power to expand and grow it. Getting sober is making this possible. I can think again about what my dreams are, what they will be now.