Revelations And Recalibration
The journey is on going. The destination is irrelevant. You don’t magically discover all the answers just because you quit drinking alcohol.
That’s what I’ve recently been reminded of, after being sober for almost seven years.
This might all sound a tad dramatic but I’ve had a bit of a revelation this week and it’s taken me by surprise, as I thought the revelations had all been doled out and dealt with ages ago, back in the first few years of my new AF life. And this revelation was a biggie.
It started with a mop and a slammed bin lid. I’d been working like a dog, spending all my time (and I mean every, single, waking minute) either cleaning, walking dogs, working or cooking, food shopping, childcare…you get the picture. And I was in a really foul mood, taking it out on those around me, my lovely family all of them trying to appease me, treading on eggshells as they went.
“It’s ok, I’ll do it! Along with EVRYTHING else! You just sit there and relax!!”
“My life is a nightmare. When did I get so busy?? Why is everything so hard? Why can’t I have any fun??”
And so it went on, for a good few weeks. I was deteriorating into a moaning, negative horror but in my head, I was entirely justified in this behaviour – I just wanted a bit of help. Was that so much to ask? In the moment of the final showdown of my long, drawn out pity party, I threw my sodden mop to the kitchen floor after cleaning up another misplaced wee (courtesy of the puppy who still hasn’t got his furry little head around the idea of asking to go to the toilet in the garden). I slammed the bin lid shut in a fit of pique, and shouted crossly at my boyfriend that life was rubbish and I needed more support. Then I flounced off to bed. We didn’t speak for a couple of days.
In my world, I thought this was all everyone else’s fault. But then, a few days later, the revelation came.
I’d pondered the whys, how this had all come about. I’d looked at everyone else around me and thought about their shortcomings – their lack of support for me, the fact that they were not automatically coming to my rescue when I needed it; I focused a lot on how hard life had become, how there was no fun anymore; no light-footedness, just heavy, stomping, miserable steps through seemingly endless swamps of wet concrete and slime.
And then I had a breakthrough.
In the immediate aftermath of my drinking years, I truly believed that you either sink or swim – you can feel sorry for yourself for the fact that booze has gone a bit haywire or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself down and work out how the hell you’re going to get the most out of life, sober. And that’s what I did. And it worked.
But recently, I’ve allowed the darkness to creep back into my head again. I’d stopped thinking that I had a choice in how I perceived my environment and circumstances, and instead slipped into a horribly negative state of mind where people were against me and I was playing the victim once more. Except I had put myself there – it was me who chose to get a new puppy, me who chooses to work long hours, me who has very high standards in everything and finds it hard to give herself a break. Me. It was all down to me really. And yet I was blaming anyone but.
I took a long hard look at myself and decided on a few things. First off, I was going to start meditating again, every single day for at least ten minutes. Secondly, I was going to start building more fun into my life. Thirdly, I was going to put a lid on my miserable, moaning ways. Fourthly, I was going to start practising what I preach and inject a good dose of self-compassion into my daily life. And last, but certainly not least, I was going to start appreciating the very special people I have in my life, the ones who I value so highly but don’t always show it.
Life is seriously short, and even more seriously finite. God, we take it for granted - the belief that we will be around forever and have all the time in the world to travel where we want to go, do all the things we want to do, love all the people we want to love. And we have no idea when it will all be over. I had been swallowed up into a work-hard/don’t-play-at-all mentality, where I felt pangs of guilt if I didn’t have my nose to the grindstone at every opportunity. I was spouting the right stuff but was hardly putting any of it into practice anymore. I’d stopped meditating and I was allowing my thoughts to become my reality, and they were the basis of a reality nobody wants!
Stopping drinking seven years ago gave me a precious gift – the gift of clarity and living life without a filter. And years into my sobriety, I was casually beginning to abandon this gift, barely without noticing. I have to credit my honest boyfriend with much of the revelation – he says it like it is, which I appreciate. Honestly, it’s a very good thing when we have people around us who don’t pull any punches. The whole experience of the thrown mop, and the tears and the tantrums, followed by the revelation and soul-searching, feels like I’ve been given a fresh start. Like I have been shown two roads in life and gently pushed towards the right one, the one where I’ll smile the most.