Opening Doors

20 May

List articles are all the rage and my Facebook feed is full of LOLZ from Buzzfeed and other similar sites. Apart from the ones about drinking which make my blood boil (30 Hilarious Signs Wine is your BFF or some rubbish like that), they’re generally a fun way to pass a few minutes. 

Someone I really love and admire posted ’30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself’ today and it really got me thinking about our sober toolkits and how this weird thing we call alcoholism has given us some unexpected gifts: http://www.lifebuzz.com/start-doing/#!O4vZ3

All of these points, without exception, I think, are the things we must learn to stay sober. They’re all about authenticity, self-care, helping others, checking in with what we need and desire and tackling the difficult things in our lives. 

Yes, it might be hard and we might not like it sometimes, but sobriety equips us for life with tools that some of us might never have learnt without having a drinking problem. When I look back at my life before drinking got out of hand, I was living so chaotically but paradoxically within a self-imposed straight-jacket of control. I was dishonest with myself in my relationship, what I expected from myself, how I treated my body. I overrode all desire and need for being kind to myself with rigidity and denial. 

Learning all the unexpected lessons that go on around sobriety is an amazing journey to go on, not only because it unlocks new experiences and opportunities in our lives and ultimately (although it may not feel that way sometimes) makes our lives easier, but because it gives us the keys to a door some people never find. Unlocking the door to the raw emotional bits inside and knowing what to do when we get there is one of the bigger gifts of sobriety in my view. We have to do it to stop drinking and if we’re lucky enough to find a sober community to immerse ourselves in, we find spiritual guides, people ahead us on the path who can suggest to us what to do with what we find there.

If we blog or go to recovery meetings, we have a place to articulate our feelings honestly in a safe environment where we not only will we not be judged, we’ll be supported. We have people who will listen to us, soothe us and celebrate with us new milestones in recovery. 

Sometimes, I feel like the recovery community (and AA in particular) is what I’ve unknowingly been searching for my whole life. I’ve always been a person who thinks and talks in emotions much more than your average. This has served me well in forming deep friendships, but I’m often holding back from spending too much time talking about this stuff (let’s face it, it can be boring) which can leave me wanting. And usually, I’m the one listening, so it’s vital I go somewhere to talk. I get the emotional release I need in that room in a way I never have from therapy. Therapy is all about me, which is helpful, but sobriety is about all of us, collectively heaping each other to get better. It’s remarkable, when one thinks about the selfless, loving acts that go on in the sober community. 

So, I suppose my thought today is that as people with drinking problems, we’ve been forced to confront what’s below the surface head on and for that I am grateful. Would I choose again to be an alcoholic in another life? No. This is a disease that kills many and could kill me if I give in. But I AM happy to have been given the change to explore this stuff, because many don’t. 

Daily my sobriety shifts, from the agony of the weekend to feeling like a little precious gift today. We put one foot in front of the other and we grow….

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8 Responses to “Opening Doors”

  1. soberlearning May 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Great post. I feel like you do, AA has given me so many new tools to look at my life with. I sometimes think, do normal people already know all this stuff? I don’t know, but I am learning more about how to live as a better person through this program.

  2. Dragonfly Wanders May 21, 2014 at 6:19 am #

    I love your positive view of recovery. Just what I needed on a blue day!

  3. primrosep May 21, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    ‘therapy is all about me but sobriety is about all of us.” YES. love love love this post FFF. thank you.

    we have got into such a tangle inside with our drinking. recovery is about taking a comb and gently and carefully making everything straight, smooth and shiny again.

    and love that list, too! thanks 🙂

    • BirdoMcD May 21, 2014 at 8:51 am #

      This is absolutely true, and you won’t believe it, but yesterday morning I read this exact same list. I’m not on facebook, I was searching for help in various guises, and ended up printing out this list and having a bit of a chat with myself.
      What are the odds of you doing almost exactly the same?!
      The world is amazing.
      I’m often saying to clients in therapy that it is one thing to know what you don’t want to do any more, and another to work out what you DO wants to do. And starting is often the biggest hurdle.
      Keep going! Or, keep starting!

  4. Lulu May 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    This is such a lovely post and full of so many truths. I totally identify. I too wonder why I never learned the coping skills that so many seem to posses. I feel childlike but am so happy to be learning them now.

    When you said “I overrode all desire and need for being kind to myself with rigidity and denial.” it reminded me of a lot of people. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why are/were we so unkind to ourselves?

    It sounds like you’re seeing things so clearly. Yay! Happy days.

  5. lucy2610 May 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Beautiful FFF 🙂

  6. nomorewine May 22, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Hi…

    Just wanted to say that I’ve been reading your blog the last few days and it all could have come straight from my head and heart. I too have had a back and forward relationship to finally kicking the booze and after the MANY hours I’ve spent reading your blog and others I’m finally giving this sober thing a real go!

    Thanks for putting everything you have been thru in words x

    • FitFatFood May 26, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      This absolutely thrilled me to read. All the struggles are worth it if it helps others. One of my biggest problems was thinking I wasn’t that bad, and couldn’t be an alcoholic, but these blogs have shown me only we know whether we need to stop and what society perceives an alcoholic to be is nonsense.

      Good Luck on your sober journey and blog lots- you’ll find it amazing to look back at how far you’ve come xx

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