Category Archives: Uncategorized

Breaking open.

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I have never read The Secret. I think I tried once but it felt rather far fetched to me, a bit schoolgirl tarot card-like. But it turns out I might be living its message at the moment.

Have you ever felt as though you are on the cusp of something? Not in a prosaic way, like moving house or changing job. But in a felt way, believing it without material reason then watching with wonder as, jigsaw-like, the pieces fall into place? Sometimes a piece you’ve been staring at for ages and have perhaps tried to attach to various others suddenly slots in and it’s ridiculously obvious that that’s where it goes. You wonder how on earth you didn’t see it before.

The last couple of weeks I’ve felt it, a slow coming together of messages all speaking the same language, all telling me I can do this.  More than that, it feels as though the messages are encouraging me to break open in order to move forwards. Beginning with the Monday morning text message from a hugely supportive friend inviting me to coffee just at the right time, (what I felt like doing was hiding at home), to the postal arrival the same day, of Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol. I had forgotten ordering it but had got it into my head that I couldn’t do this without reading it (it is as brilliant as everybody said).

Last Sunday morning in yoga we were invited to set an intention for the week ahead. Where often I find myself casting about for words of survival or strength, this time there was a palpable bubble of happiness, a feeling of knowing I was finally on the right path. The word that popped up was ‘enjoy’. Enjoy living more simply, more honestly, determinedly not sweating the small stuff. Revel in feelings, even uncomfortable ones, just let them be then let them go.

It is easy to learn the language of the zeitgeist. There are many people out there who spruik mindfulness and the importance in engaging in self-reflection and discovery. I have realised it takes commitment – long long term commitment I’m willing to bet – to find the right voices, the right method, programme, book.  Moving from one guru to another might be necessary at the start. Finding strategies and practices that resonate while also ticking logistical boxes takes time and can’t be faked. But after a while there is a good mix in place and then responsibility dictates that we stick with it, putting our faith into something that works enough for real hope to remain.

I don’t believe in predestination but rather the infiniteness of possibilities, the kind which are always there but not shouting to be seen. Waiting quietly until other elements are in place, until you open the door, then appearing as if in reply to a direct request. Shoring up a choice perhaps, providing acknowledgement only you can see or reassurance in its purest sense. Preventing a backwards step.

So my ‘set’ of signs, messages, call them what you will, included discovering one of my most trusted yoga teachers is connecting with another person on whom I am relying at the moment (step up Holly Glenn Whitaker). Then in the space of a couple of days I saw two friends of mine who had, independently, told me that my words had inspired or supported them. I began a course called The Next Step with Yoga Sivana, just at the time that the Hip Sobriety School course (see my last post for more on this) was drawing to a close and I was having a panic about another period of change. I realised though I didn’t have to see it as an end and beginning, more as adding another element into the mix, another push forwards. My yoga attendance has increased, I tuned in to the lunar eclipse, taking note of my inner landscape, my inner voice and yesterday on the day of the Autumnal Equinox I thought about life as a constant effort to maintain our fragile balance. Just as a tightrope walker will always have a net in place despite being certain she won’t fall, so we need established strategies supporting us.

Within us all there are tools, and maybe kind of magnetic forces that switch on when we wake up to the possibilities life has to offer and that we have to offer life. Almost thirty years ago, ’Carpe Diem’ was volleyed about endlessly (gratitude and love Robin Williams). It was the mantra of the age. Now we have mindfulness, being ‘in the moment’, still reminding ourselves to ‘seize the day!’ Accepting that our ability to understand and be understood is a timeless and endless process is the first step on the path to creating peace in our lives.

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New Horizons

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Today’s mantra in Hip Sobriety School is ‘In stepping out of my comfort zone I step into my potential.’ As a stepping off point Holly shared the William Faulkner quote above which totally resonates with me as the ocean is important in our lives now. I often walk along the shore and somehow I can’t but feel the pulse of possibility. There comes a sense freedom, a knowledge that potential is real, is still available. For a long time I felt that I had squandered it.

Potential is what people see when they look at children. Uni students, suddenly passionate about saving the world have the potential to remain ablaze with fiery opinions and determination but also that which will lead them into bad company, bad choices, the fire fizzling out. The determination of the newly qualified, lawyer, doctor, teacher, saving freedoms, lives, souls.

A middle aged housewife and sometime writer not so much. Much much less potential there. Fires long since cold, youthful vigour dampened by mundanity, what eye sparkle there was now dull, brows creased with worry.

Comfort zone can become all encompassing, which is fine if your comfort zone is work, or sewing, or painting or gardening. But when things turn inward it is easy to become downcast and forget there was ever any fire at all.

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But then comes a nudge, a twinkle like the reflection of light in a mirror, momentarily blinding. A reminder from the horizon that there are possibilities, adventures to be had yet. There may need to be several nudges but even once the trick of light is long gone, the shadow remains, the wonder is always there.

Ten years ago today we arrived in Australia for a ‘trial’. It has taken all of this time, and I’m not finished yet, to persuade myself to lose sight of the shore. I have clung on as though to an invisible rope, which will always be at hand, but which I have learnt to accept not to depend on.

As we dull our senses and dreams with drinking, we create our own toxic little comfort zone, always there, always a friend when we need to avoid discomfort, loneliness, frustration, stress. But those things lie in wait, biding their time for when you realise that to outrun them is impossible.

Feeling everything takes some getting used to. Breathing through the stress, counting to ten, walking away. Skills we try and instil in our children and yet as adults, avoid out of fear.

My swim has begun, I know I am wiling to navigate the obstacles. It may not be fun at times, in I’m pretty sure it will get rough as hell, but once the shore behind is no longer in sight there is nowhere to go but forwards.

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Round two

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I feel as though I have not only fallen off the wagon, I’ve fallen off and watched it roll away into the distance over the horizon into the setting sun. Some days I wonder if I am even capable of catching it up, hauling myself back on and getting into the driving seat. But I remind myself I’ve done it before, and I know I can do it again. So I say bring it on!

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Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the festive season is the very hardest time to be sober. That’s why I started with 100% sobriety in July – I was certain that, by the time Christmas rolled around I would be so bloody fine without booze, so totally fixed, that I wouldn’t bat an eyelid as everyone around me imbibed at leisure (and managed to limit themselves – I missed that memo). Anyone reading who is familiar with DBT skills (dialectical behavioural therapy) will most likely have alarm bells going off, sounding something like CLEAN MIND! CLEAN MIND! CLEAN MIND! By December I was complacent, had forgotten to do my homework, pushed aside the radical acceptance that for me, limitation is not an option and so jumped straight back into addict mind, ready to party!

Fast forward a few weeks, I am bleary-eyed, stiff from lack of yoga, sick of the cycle and ready to re-start. As well as catching that goddam wagon and taking a firm hold of the reins, I feel as though I am gearing up for a fight, mobilising my troops, drawing the battle lines. I am refusing to catastrophize these few weeks as I have to believe there is still so much left to aim for. Things only become a cliche because they are true, and the truism I am reminding myself of just now is that this is all part of the journey. There are no dead-ends and as one of my children’s favourite book says “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.” (We’re going on a Bear Hunt)

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One of my biggest strengths is my sociability. Some see the ease with which others share their truths and stories as negative traits, a sign somehow of weakness, that to display our weaknesses somehow compounds our frailty as a person. I disagree. To err is human, as we all well know, and to pretend otherwise is duping others and ourselves. This time, more than ever, I am going to own my journey, my stories, my truths. I stand by who I am, I like who I am and these beliefs will get me through the knowledge that I don’t always like what I do. What I do is not me, does not define me and the further along this path I get, the deeper I delve into the exploration the more certain I become of this.

My troops are many and varied, all are vital in some way and will serve me over the course of the battle in their own way. They include

  • Hip Sobriety school with Holly Whittaker
  • Home podcast – I am going to work my way through the episodes while working my way through my ironing pile, me time + a sense of accomplishment from ticking off a chore. Laura and Holly are the most inspiring presenters and seem to give their hearts and souls to their listeners. Knowing that women who I admire so much have come from a similar place as me and made it to the other side means so much, gives such hope.
  • Febfast – love the cause, love the sense of accountability it brings.
  • 40 days of mantras from Hipsobriety. I got about three quarters of the way through this last year before getting distracted, I am going to go through them again in my morning meditation time. So well put together.
  • Jenny, my lovely psychologist whose words at our last meeting keeping playing over and over in my head. She said, “I take you as I find you.” These perhaps are the very most important words to say to someone embarking on any journey of self-awareness, and particularly recovery. Knowing that the shame you may feel yourself is not universally felt towards you, knowing you are free to be yourself, whoever that is at any particular time, is everything.
  • Yoga Sivana – not only are the classes at this beautiful studio fantastically well taught, the teachers are real, grounded, fallible people who teach from the heart and encourage their students to listen to theirs.
  • Meditation – twice daily and booked in as Mum’s absolute ‘do not disturb’ time.
  • Planning – planning meals, activities, keeping busy. Planning also for downtime, reading time, me time.
  • Writing – keeping up with more on here, pitching more ideas, working on the novel – sitting down at the desk. Like getting onto the mat, once I am here, tapping away, I feel as though I am where I’m meant to be.
  • 21 day yoga challenge with Wanderlust
  • Sharing – such an important element and one I often struggle with. I am going to lean on my friends, accept help when it’s offered and be open to advice knowing it is given in love. I am going to keep in better touch with those who live far away and remind them and myself how important they are to me. DBT recommends ‘publicly announcing abstinence’ and for me it helps if I feel accountable somehow.
  • Exercise – early morning walking always makes me feel like I am ready to face the day.
  • Playing games with the boys. It is so important to replace the seedy drinking time with fun and silliness. I am constantly wishing they wouldn’t grow up so quickly. I need to enjoy the time with them more. 
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We played backyard cricket at sunset the other day – best fun. Slight problem with balls on roofs but it added to the interest!

Can anyone add to my battle plan? I think it’s pretty comprehensive but perhaps there is something that has worked for you that you think I could try? Feel free to get in touch with suggestions.

My heart is wide open, I’m ready to learn.

“It’s times like these we learn to live again.” (Dave Grohl)

PAWS. Rest. Repeat.

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Tackling any sort of long term problem or issue can often feel like a lonely business, especially if it involves making a decision that sets you apart from the pack. There are a huge number of online forums and places of support that can help, one of them, Hello Sunday Morning, has been a constant in my ups and downs for years, as I clambered onto the wagon, lay down, exhausted, got my breath back then promptly (and sometimes after a while longer) fell off again.

I posted recently about the fact my depression has been rearing its head and my disappointment that my abstinence hadn’t ‘fixed’ or at least lightened this a lot; I was convinced that the two were intertwined almost to the point of being one and the same. Not the case. I described in my post how I’d been feeling, my frustration at feeling frustrated and anxious. My inability to see things logically, my snappiness with the boys and crippling guilt afterwards.

A long-term connection on HSM asked if I had heard of PAWS, or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. When I looked into it I was incredulous. It described exactly how I’d been feeling and explained why. It makes so much sense to me. Reading about other people’s experiences, just knowing it is NORMAL makes the most massive difference. An extract:

‘It is important to remember that symptoms of PAWS come and go. The vast majority of people do not experience excessive fatigue or anxiety for months or years on end, without a break. Instead, these symptoms fluctuate, lasting days or weeks, and are separated by periods that are symptom-free.’

PAWS is a normal part of the recovery process from unhealthy dependence and addiction.’

So I am not doomed to a life feeling miserable, angry and incapable of change, I am just riding the wave, an unexpected part but one I’m coming to know better now. To know your enemy is to be able to work out strategies to defeat her. I am re-visiting strategies I’ve worked on in therapy and am reminding myself to live with ahimsa, or compassion, towards others and myself.

Just after I had discovered PAWS I did an incredible workshop with Cora from Slow Yoga. I had signed up for this because I love Cora as a teacher and it seemed like a nice place to be on a Sunday afternoon so it was spooky how well it fitted in with my decision to accept this part of the journey and look after myself.

If you ever want to see just how quickly two hours can open your heart and help you find peace, do this! The combination of delicious yin poses to iron out the body’s kinks and deep yoga Nidra leaves you feeling clean, rested, refreshed and at peace – yes, all at the same time! I also felt a determination to try and carry this into the everyday, this slowing down, taking everything one step at a time.

Another thing that popped into my inbox just at the right moment it seemed was an email from Holly Whittaker at Hip Sobriety. She is one of my gurus in sobriety, her words reach me, describe me, inspire me. She is running an initiative called The Mantra Project and as soon as I read about it I knew I needed and desperately wanted to do it.

Meditation is something that helps me immensely but something I sometimes struggle to fit into my day. To have a reason to get up, to read what the mantra is for today, then to light candles, sit with the words for a while, give myself peace and time for myself before the inevitable craziness of the day begins feels like absolutely the best kind of treat. One I love and one that is enriching me, helping me heal and grow. I feel stronger, more capable of tackling the demons, keeping them at bay and becoming the me I want to be.

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Love ❤️

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Many of us feel as though we are living in some sort of awful dream-state, when in fact we are learning the hard way that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

I have indulged in my fair share of Trump memes, hilarious while I believed that his election would be an aberration. And now it’s happened. There is such strength of feeling on show, people have shouted, and continue to shout, their fears, masquerading as beliefs. For it is fear that drove the result. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of the unfamiliar. Haven’t we all known that feeling at some point in our lives? My six year old felt it yesterday doing something for the first time; my eight year old every time there is a storm; my ten year old has to work hard not to shut down at the prospect of change. We all, to a greater or lesser extent, know that feeling, that fear.

But to play on those fears, to use them for political gain is, to me, despicable. It is politics. Admitting your fears out loud is the ultimate act of vulnerability. As adults, it is too much for many, for most. The election gave a voice, and an action, to those deeply-rooted fears.

It is easy for us with the skills, the comfort, the knowledge to dismiss the vulnerability. Far easier to be incensed, shocked and angry. But to react with anger and hatred will play into the hands of those keen to maintain the divide.

Far better to try and react with love, with understanding, with an effort to share these qualities, hope the light wins over the darkness.

I spent yesterday morning at Yoga Sivana surrounded by beautiful souls whose hearts collectively expanded as we listened to the Venerable Lama Tendar telling us his story; it is one of exile, uncertainty, imprisonment. And yet.

And yet he teaches compassion. Compassion to all living beings, even, perhaps especially, towards those we don’t immediately connect with or understand. We looked to him for healing, for guidance. Tolerance, understanding, compassion, love.

It is up to us to be brave, to have the courage to go forward with our hearts and minds open, to love freely and without judgement. 

Namaste ❤️

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Shame

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Yesterday I read the report of an inquest into the death of Karanne Hollow, a British solicitor who chose to end her life six weeks after being arrested for drink driving. It stated that, following an argument with her boyfriend she ‘downed’ two bottles of wine and later crashed her car into a hedge at 3am without injury to herself or anyone else.

The coroner’s statement goes on to say she was embarrassed by her consequent arrest and questioning by police a week later. One newspaper report suggested she had previously been treated for depression.

The thing that leaps out at me is that this was a young woman who was clearly struggling with life and who must have felt she had no other choice but to escape the pain permanently. Perhaps she had exhausted all avenues. She must have felt as though there was no one who could help.The last thing she did though was to send a message to her sister; she had people who cared, who would almost certainly have done anything they could to help.

As is tragically borne out by statistics, far too many people find it impossible to reach out; to admit to their struggle, to ask for help. There has to be some onus on friends and family to stay vigilant when someone is not coping; desperation can turn into decision all too quickly.

There should be no more shame in talking about mental health than physical. And yet digestive health, sports injuries, allergies, you name it, all seem to be acceptable conversation material whereas depression and anxiety are hidden away, couched in shameful language and feelings of inadequacy. In this day and age of oversharing (and I put my hand up as a guilty party), that people feel there is still a stigma is unacceptable.

The days of being expected to pull ourselves together should be long past. There are so many wonderful organisations out there, so many souls willing to help; it should never come to it that people feel they have no alternative but to end their life.

Shame around drinking is real, we all know ‘the guilts’ but, gut-wrenching as they are, they do pass, until there is a habitual problem. Then come admissions, bigger decisions that have to be made, ones that will have a lasting impact. Those decisions need bolstering, shoring up with love and with kindness from within and without.

If it all sounds somehow obvious, or easy, I apologise. We all know it is anything but. The tricks the mind can play are infinite in scope, whether it is well or not. It is only by exploring with honesty, by sharing, by talking that the maze can be navigated.

Lifelife Australia – Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention 13 11 14

Samaritans UK – 116 123

Beyond Blue Australia – 1300 22 4636

AA Australia – http://www.aa.org.au/

AA UK – http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/

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Memory Lane

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The thing about memory lane is that if ever you have a chance to go back there in person, you’ll find that planning permission has been granted without your knowledge or say so. Buildings, places, monuments (in your head at least), that meant so much will have been radically altered at the very least, if indeed they are there at all.

They might be smaller, dingier, tarted-up beyond recognition, quieter or they may have been bought by a chain and what atmosphere they possessed pummelled out of them so they now fit inside a box. Whatever, there is little chance you will go back and find yourself able to slot back in.

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Try slotting in here…

We all have our own version of memory lane. For most of us it’s probably more like a half-finished spaghetti junction; roads and pathways criss-crossing, sudden dead ends where the way seemed clear. You can think of it like an ever changing map or blueprint, written on sheets of thin paper, each laid down over the one before, so that ideas, even those dismissed, are there, just not at the surface. Visible, memorable just not accessible.

The muddle this can create while being lived, sheet upon sheet laid down as revisions are made, is immersive, the cliched invisible wood thanks to the endless trees blocking the view. The harder you search for a unobstructed path, the ‘right’ way, an escape, the more overgrown every direction can appear.

Time and distance can bring perspective, I discovered recently that it is possible to return to places that hold difficult memories without becoming entangled again. Just because you are there doesn’t mean you are who you used to be. That in itself is incredibly liberating – and sometimes tragic, such as when you find that a much-loved grocer has been replaced by a very up itself yoga studio complete with list of rules on the door. Much as I love yoga, I pity the New Town residents who won’t know the hot, comforting nourishment of a Margiotta’s homemade pizza.

One of the greatest gifts must be having friends who stay put as you tumble through life, providing an anchor through time and over vast distances. I used the phrase ‘good times’ to one of my dearest friends about our flat sharing days in Edinburgh. She wasn’t sure at first that for me they were. She probably has a point, I was certainly a little nuts, but from where I am now I am focusing on the gratitude I have for our friendship and letting the other bits go.

There are lots of friends – not to mention my family – who have borne witness to some crazy shit I’ve got up to or into. Some were made in the midst of my realisation that things had to change so saw me lurching from one extreme to another. I wouldn’t have blamed people for walking away.

Relationships that endure the hills and troughs of life are one sure measure of fulfilment. I cannot again imagine becoming so unhappy as to be hopeless now that I have cemented friendships and relationships in this new stage of life. I didn’t have any doubt, it’s just lovely to have confirmation. To my amazing group of friends tumbling alongside, thank you.

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Predisposition

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Today in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sarah Berry wrote a piece about a guy with a famous name and his story of recovery.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/wellbeing/life-lessons-from-recovering-addict-christopher-kennedy-lawford-20160926-grojfn.html

Seeing the subject matter of course made me want to read it. Seeing the Kennedy name can prompt different reactions though; sometimes it makes the article or piece more appealing, such as when talking about Jackie’s fabulous hats (I think!). Other times, such as when hearing what has gone wrong with another one’s life, can initially be a turn-off. It is easy to dismiss ‘celebrity’ experience, advice and opinion. We put it down to availability and affordability. But, as this article points out, addition absolutely crosses socio-economic divides.

It is about self-esteem, confidence and the ability to ask for help. Apologies if this is repetitive. I don’t think it can be emphasised enough how important it is to build bonds, strong ones that say to both the addict and the support person, you are worth this, I am with you, I will stay here for as long as I need to.

The genetic piece is interesting I think. At one point, desperate to try a ‘soft’ approach to recovery, I consulted a team of health advisors who consist of a geneticist and a nutritionist. The idea is that you part with an awful lot of blood (not all at once), accompanied by vast sums of money (immediately) and they go away and test it for all sorts of things you didn’t know were possible then reward you with a folder of unintelligible reports and lots and lots of vitamins. The dosage on the vitamins was handwritten and as unintelligible as the science they went with so I admired the pretty graphs in the folder and for the next few weeks took as many pills as I could stomach with my orange juice on the days I that I remembered.

Not exactly a solution. (I kept drinking.) But I did clock one thing as the science man (dry as a biscuit ) flew through the results; the tests had shown that I am NOT genetically predisposed to addiction. If you click through to the link in Sarah Berry’s article you will get to a page of info on this which, to my admittedly totally unscientific mind, seems all to be rather desperate when citing a definite genetic link. The reasons people, we, I, drink are many and complex. I think the management side is so much more important.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the science stuff, do try to make time to watch this Ted talk by Johann Hari.

Though he is talking primarily about drugs, the concept can be applied to all addicts and actually I think, to anyone who is suffering from a mental illness too.

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Connection

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I am loving feeling ultra connected at the moment. Connected to life without a filter warping the view. Connected to people without the burden of expectations. Connected to myself without the pain of guilt and regret.

All of this I put down to sobriety. It turns out that for me, the short term high of drinking gave way to a mighty long-lasting, almost constant, low. The trouble is, being in that time, in the cycle, it is incredibly difficult to imagine getting out of it, even when realise you want to.

So the challenge of the how comes to define the why – or rather why not –  to a degree. At least it did for me. The low is like a background hum that changes pitch only after a particularly extravagant bender, dropping you into a deep well, with slippery, vertical sides, the light such a long way up. The easiest option is to opt back in, quickly. Until the opting in stops being optional.

Understanding and admitting this, connecting honestly with myself is central to moving forward. But so too are connections with others. If felt as though the universe was colluding in this theory last week as every day saw another meaningful conversation.

Some could have been challenging; the first meeting with someone since I began ‘owning up’ always contains an element of anxiety for me. But the love, the warmth, the unequivocal support I’ve received is far and away the best silver lining of this decision.

I have enjoyed planned walks, impromptu phone calls, delicious coffees, unexpected live messaging on FB and snatched intense ten minute chats on the corner of the street. Without exception, my heart has felt gladdened each time, my soul uplifted, my determination strengthened.

These soul-nourishing interactions have reminded me that we are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, if only we have connections to anchor us, people to shore us up when we need it and, so importantly, the courage to reach out.

Now I have three weeks of reconnection in the UK. I have day trips and nights out planned, long overdue meetings with friends, our partners and offspring and of course family. I can’t wait. Without connection what is there?

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Standing vigil

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Where you are may be uncomfortable but sometimes there is simply no choice.

I am trying really really hard to make this time, this sobering, challenging time, as easy as I can for my family. In the early days of my decision, when I was inwardly crumbling, I was offered a spot in rehab. I declined not because I didn’t think I needed it, but because I didn’t want to feel any more of a failure than I already did.

In future years they may come to realise the magnitude, but at the moment my sons are deliciously naive of what I am going through thank god. It means the drama is all mine though.

Early on, sobriety for me meant that it felt somehow crucial to maintain mundanity. How could I have gone anywhere when so much needed done? Keeping up with the washing (which sat about in buckets, unsorted but clean at least), making sure bellies were full (so what if a few more meals were from the freezer section?) and children were present at school (skidding in as the bell rang) was achievement then.

In between the chores I tried to exude positivity, posting on Instagram with #gratitude, #sobriety, #livingwell. The only cringeworthy hashtag I have yet to employ is #carpediem. At the time of posting I do mean it, I am seizing the moment, shouting hooray for me, look at what I can do!

But there is the fall, the reversal. Recently I have just felt so bloody bored of being positive, of celebrating this thing I know and accept is necessary but sometimes is also just really fucking hard.

And then there is the weekend sigh. The collective exhale as time slows and Monday feels a long way off. From the promise of that Friday night deserved wine, to the friends coming over for Sunday lunch, the weekend is there for the drinking. Not be a part of that is sometimes more than I think I can bear.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy has a much-used phrase called ‘distress tolerance’. Even the fact there is a name to describe how I’m feeling can sometimes be a comfort; so many people have been here, where I am, for them to have thought up a name for it, how brilliant!

I have been working through distress tolerance for months, long before I gave up drinking for good this time. (It is never wise, I realise now, to utter the words ‘for good’.) I need to understand that the risk will always be there, dimmed, more subtle, easier to navigate but present nonetheless.

There are three mindsets that come into discussions in distress tolerance. Addict mind, clean mind, and clear mind. This latter ‘mind’ is the aim. Fully committed to the cause but not so obsessed by  positivity as to be blind to danger lurking in the tiredness, the sadness, the celebration, the reward.

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I must then stand vigil for my values, my decision; I am the soldier on the gate. There must, by necessity, be a shift-change, new energy brought in, new tactics. The common goal holds firm though, batting away the temptations, the desires, the cunning, wheedling voices carried on the wind.

Self-awareness is tough, confronting (and bloody boring often if it’s not your own, let’s be honest!), but somehow the mere act of removing the wine, the means of escape, that deceitful old ally, leaves no choice. I am by necessity present all the time.

Every conversation, interaction, raised voice, loving word, is authentic because there is no filter, no mediating substance to allow for future doubt. I will stand vigil, being watchful through the challenge, trusting others have done the same.

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