Gratitude

12 Nov

Last night, Lily posted something that really spoke to me in response to my Lessons in Sobriety post:

“I hope this encourages you not discourages you but I read this and I could so relate to where you’re at. I spent an entire year trying to reach 30 days – I would always fall off around 2-3 weeks when I’d start feeling better and would decide I had been making too big a deal of it all… only to end up back where I was. It took me at least 18 months – maybe two years – to find a real foothold on sobriety from when I started to admit I had a problem.”

Rather than being discouraging it made me really grateful for the experiences I’ve had over the past 18 months or so. It’s taken me this long to realise that I need to stop drinking as a non-negotiable deal with myself, at least to the end of the year (but I know in reality it needs to be longer, if not forever. It’s only because of the collective weight of all the things that have happened with my drinking over this period that have brought me to this point.

As I’ve said before on here, it’s been hard for me to recognise that I have a problem, because as isolated incidents, my drunken antics aren’t that bad. Not one person in my social circle would say I have a problem with drinking- I never pass out, throw up or drink more than them. In fact, if anything, I’m sometimes more restrained than them. But I’ve come to realise that it’s not specific drinking incidents that have led me to my “bottom”, it’s the fact that I can’t drink how I want to in public, and that I’d prefer to do it alone. That my worst nights have always been alone with a bottle, and that time after time after time, I’ve failed to control it. It’s this string of failed attempts to stop that confirm that I need to.

So I am grateful. Grateful that I have this wealth of experience and failure to draw on. The classic Beckett quote springs to mind

 

 

Whilst I might have not been failing better in my attempts to stop drinking, each time I’ve learnt something, picked myself up and tried again, banking the lesson on where I went wrong.

For these failures, I am grateful.

And there’s more to be thankful for. As I go through life I become more grateful for my character flaws. So the fact that I’m a natural worrier, an anxious person who wants to please and have validation from others means that I’ve always thrown myself into my work, professional or academic and excelled. It’s caused me no end of problems over the years, but on balance, I’m really thankful for this for this character trait.

It’s the same with the horrible battle with body image I have. If I was naturally slim and never needed to keep my weight in check, I would never have discovered running. Admittedly, played a role in my once obsessive food restriction when I got addicted to the power of losing weight, but it has also been one of the most overwhelmingly positive forces in my life. Now, if I didn’t run I think I would go crazy, and I’m so glad that my body’s natural ability to pile on the pounds has led me to find something that is now my rock to keep me (mostly) sane.

So today I am wondering whether one day, a long day down the line, I will be grateful for getting to this point in my life with alcohol. I have a very strong feeling that one day I will feel that my identity is as a non-drinker. It might be 2 years, 5 years, 10 years down the line, but it’s one of those deep-buried gut feelings that you have when something is right, that it’s so easy to bury when you’re drinking. Today I’m imagining how dramatically my experience of life will change if I cut out booze, and feeling grateful that I have been brought to the point where I have no choice but to give it 100% and try harder than I’ve ever tried.

Each time I’ve given up alcohol this year, I’ve done it with an underlying sense of annoyance or denial. Classic angry thoughts have occupied my sobriety “Why can’t I just drink? I don’t really have a problem, I’ve just had some tough times in my personal life and this is a phase!”, “I’ve always been a normal drinker, so I can’t suddenly develop a problem”, “This 100 day challenge is just another way of denying myself pleasure. And I DESERVE pleasure in my life.”

This time, if I reframe the whole scenario as an opportunity to give myself a great gift, to learn something about myself that I think I already know, but have been too scared to try out (that life is better without drinking) then this journey into sobriety might feel less of an arduous challenge and more of a wonderful treat for myself. A holiday from all the bodily pain and mental anguish.

We’ll see. I’m feeling good and steady in my commitment to the challenge, but I’ve been here before. This time, I’m just better equipped to deal with the speed bumps in the road.

As I’ve been writing this, I just tuned into the lyrics of the song that’s playing on my Spotify radio, very apt, from a song called “The Habit” from the wonderful Lissie:

Once it hits your lips you know you’re gonna have more/Coursing through the blood and coming out of your pore. There’s no use in fighting/Almost as inviting as the first time.

If you don’t quit, you’ll never get over it…

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2 Responses to “Gratitude”

  1. Lilly November 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    So happy to read this. So glad you are questioning, examining, seeing the positives in your experience to date and using it to find strength for the future. Such insight you have at your age. I truly wish I’d had half of it back then. I honestly wonder how life would be different now if I’d done what you’re doing now then – so when I see younger bloggers like you and Kate posting I just so want to cheer you on and say *PLEASE* keep going. I am glad to be getting sober now, not 10 years from now, but I sure wish I’d had the sense to do it a decade ago when all the signs were already there. It does just get worse.

    “So today I am wondering whether one day, a long day down the line, I will be grateful for getting to this point in my life with alcohol.”

    I’ve never thought of it quite like that but reading this was a light bulb moment for me. Ding ding! Even in my current slightly-struggling state this just rang so true for me. I can TOTALLY see that being the case. And honestly I feel some of that already. I might still be wrestling with things slightly but I’m already grateful for the big changes six months has brought and so glad I’m not just still stuck in pit of drinking and feeling fucked up and miserable about it but not doing anything about it.

    Dig your heels in and embrace that positivity you’re feeling right now to power you through the next 100 days and beyond. You can do this. And you WILL NOT regret it!

    Lilly x

    • FitFatFood November 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      Lily I cannot express how happy this comment made me. Thank you!

      I met Kate recently and she was a huge inspiration to me- it’s rare I meet people my age on this journey and tackling all the stuff that comes with it (sober dating, being in boozy industries etc).

      Still feeling that positivity today 🙂 Surely something good has to come out of all the shit wolfie throws at us eh?

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