I have seven months sober today. I was thinking about writing a post today- and then I checked my wordpress and someone had just left a comment on my last post, which was over 2 months ago, checking on me. I have been silent here, but my mind has been roaring.
The emotions that I have been experiencing of late are probably nothing unique to one experiencing a break-up. I have experienced the kind of sadness that is frightening. I have experienced rage like I have never felt it before. I have experienced feeling lost and disillusioned. I think I haven’t written because I haven’t had the words that can possibly express what has been going on in my mind and my body. There is something to be said for just feeling the feelings and letting them be.
The only way I can truly explain it, is that it’s been like being on a rollercoaster. But one that I didn’t choose to be on. And one that I can’t seem to get off from.
Although, at the same time, I actually think I am doing quite fine. There’s these two parts: the rollercoaster self, and the part of me that is doing pretty well. I am completely fine when I’m at work. I am lucky enough to have a job that I love. A regular reader of this blog might know that I have switched positions a lot in the last few years, as I have entered a new field post-graduate degree. The position I am in is a perfect balance for me- it’s challenging but also chill. I have amazing co-workers who have been so supportive, and the best part is that we have lunch together everyday and just laugh. I am starting to be friendly with some of them outside of work too which has been great.
I seem to be adjusting to living alone and being single. I have been afraid of the weekends, as that is when I used to spend the most time with my ex-partner, but mostly they have been okay. I try to have a few things planned with friends- a hike, a movie, a meal, a girls night. I see how the FEAR of the thing- being alone- is bigger and scarier than the actual thing itself. When I’m alone it’s mostly nice.
Still, I have to fight against the mentality that I am not enough on my own. I have spent most of my life in a relationship or with a partner. It is rare for me not to have something romantic going on and it has always made me feel very insecure to be alone. I think this is a human condition thing, but I also think that for me, it has to do with this void I have had since I was a child. Since my father died. Lately I have been seeing the ways that experience changed and shaped me more clearly. The void the “trauma” of that event left in me that I have been trying to fill ever since with relationships and substances.
I use the word trauma in quotations because I kind of feel like the word is both overused and misunderstood. I have never allowed myself, until recently, to claim what happened to me as trauma. I always thought that trauma had to be some kind of major abuse or a catastrophic incident like a car crash or being in a war. I didn’t think the sudden death of my father, by his own hand, when I was nine, counted.
When I type that out it just seems kind of silly. Of course I knew it had an impact. But I thought the impact was grief and loss. That those were my claims to pain and rights of understanding. Trauma belonged to someone else. But what I know now is that a lot of adverse events, especially, but not limited to childhood, are traumas. And trauma changes us. It changes our brain and the way we see the world. It creates a wound that isn’t easily healed. It messes with things like our impulse control, which can lead to addiction.
I have also learned that the severity of the trauma, combined with other factors such as genetics, brain chemical imbalances, environment, etc., can lead to the severity of the addiction. Addiction is on a spectrum- that is caused by a confluence of bio-psycho-social and spiritual conditions.
I knew this stuff on an intellectual level before. I have read some on the subject but somehow, maybe because I wasn’t sober enough to understand it all, I never really “got” it.
I don’t know where I am going with this post. The force of these thoughts- that I am not whole on my own- is dying down. It’s not something I actually believe anymore, but it’s still there as a mentality I can go into sometimes- does that make sense? It’s kind of like getting sober- there’s those two minds. The sober mind that wants to be free and thrive and be well and feel good, and then the addicted mind that just can’t let go of thinking that alcohol or drugs is the way to happiness or the way to relieve the pain.
It is possible that I am re-working the neural pathways in my brain, just as I have to become a happy sober person, I am on the way to becoming a happy single person. Fingers crossed.
If I didn’t have that 11 month stretch of sobriety last year, I am not confident that I would still be sober through this break-up. But because I did have that, I lay down some serious tracks that have just stuck and not let me down. I also have built in more support- most of it still not in-person, but more nonetheless.
There are the rollercoasterish ups and downs and pain. But underneath all of that, here I am. Anything can happen to me, including seeing my ex at a restaurant with the woman he is seeing who is the same woman that I suspected something was going on with before our break-up (yes, this just happened on the weekend and woah!), and I am still me.
Nothing that is happening around me needs to change who I am at my core being. Emotions and thoughts come like a storm. And they go. This was a very yoga-ish realization I had, in a yoga class of course :), the other night. I was breathing my way through a hard pose, and it was like everything else. I will breathe and get through this hard time. Just like I got through getting sober. I am still me. I am still okay. My break-up doesn’t have to shatter my sense of self-worth. Being alone doesn’t have to mean I am not enough. Being sober doesn’t have to mean the end of the world, as many of us have learned- it is only the beginning.
My sobriety has actually given me the strength and clarity of self to get through this break-up. That is how I haven’t had a drink.